World Bank: More People Living in Poverty Than Previously Thought

A new report from the World Bank has caused the financial institution to revise its estimate of the number of people living in poverty from 1 billion to 1.4 billion. From the UN News Center:

“The new data confirm that the world will likely reach the first Millennium Development Goal [MDG] of halving the 1990 level of poverty by 2015 and that poverty has fallen by about one percentage point a year since 1981,” said Justin Lin, the World Bank’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Development Economics.

“However, the sobering news that poverty is more pervasive than we thought means we must redouble our efforts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” he warned.

The revised figures are based on 2005 measures of purchasing power parity, but due to lags, do not reflect the impacts of recent surge in food and fuel prices.

The agency also raised its poverty benchmark from $1 a day to $1.25 a day – the average poverty line for the world’s 10 to 20 poorest countries – based on the new data, reflecting a more accurate picture of the cost of living in developing nations.

“The new estimates are a major advance in poverty measurement because they are based on far better price data for assuring that the poverty lines are comparable across countries,” said Martin Ravallion, Director of the Development Research Group at the agency.