Extreme Poverty in China Crashes Since 1981

While China’s severe income inequality has become an increasingly prominent issue in recent months, new estimates from the World Bank on extreme poverty around the globe (PDF) show another side to the country’s economic growth. From Sudeep Reddy at The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics:

About 1.2 billion people in the world lived in extreme poverty in 2010, subsisting on less than $1.25 a day [in 2005 PPP U.S. dollars]. That’s down from 1.9 billion three decades ago despite a nearly 60% increase in the developing world’s population.

[…] The sharpest decline came in China, where the extreme poverty rate fell to 12% in 2010 from 84% in 1981. India’s extreme poverty dropped to 33% of the population from 60% three decades ago.

[…] More than three-fourths of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in rural areas, the bank said in a separate report Wednesday. Urbanization has been a key driver in reducing extreme poverty. About half the world’s total population now lives in rural areas.

China’s share of the world’s extremely poor population also fell from 43% in 1981 to 13% in 2010. Despite the country’s overall population growth of over 300 million during this time, the number of Chinese living in extreme poverty crashed from 835 million to 156 million people. Life expectancy at birth climbed from 67.8 to 74.8 over the same period from just 35 in 1949, according to China’s Ministry of Health and National Bureau of Statistics.

Earlier this month, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim called for an international effort to bring the global extreme poverty rate below 3% by 2030.


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