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Almost 700 million people around the world live today in extreme poverty – they subsist on less than $2.15 per day, the extreme poverty line. Just over half of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

After several decades of continuous global poverty reduction, a period of significant crises and shocks resulted in around three years of lost progress between 2020-2022. Low-income countries, which saw poverty increase during this period, have not yet recovered and are not closing the gap. 

At the mid-point of the SDGs, the world is off track. At current rates of progress, the world will likely not meet the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, with estimates indicating nearly 600 million people will still be struggling in extreme poverty by then. 

Extreme poverty is concentrated in places where it will be hardest to eradicate—parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, conflict-affected areas, and in rural areas. The outlook is also grim for almost half of the world’s population, which lives on less than $6.85 a day – the measure used for upper-middle-income countries. 

Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty. They comprise more than half of those living in extreme poverty, yet their share of the total population is just 31 percent.   

It is critical to tackle poverty in all its dimensions. Countries cannot adequately address poverty and inequality without also improving people’s well-being, including through more equitable access to health, education and basic infrastructure. 

Inequality remains unacceptably high around the world. 2020 was a turning point, when global inequality rose for the first time in decades, as the poorest people bore the steepest costs of the pandemic. Income losses of the world’s poorest were twice as high as the richest. The poorest also faced large setbacks in health and education which, if left unaddressed by policy action, will have lasting consequences for their future income prospects. 

Inequalities of income, education, and opportunity are all interconnected and must be addressed together. Reducing inequalities of opportunity and of incomes among individuals, populations, and regions can foster social cohesion and boost general well-being.  

Policymakers must intensify efforts to grow their economies, while protecting the most vulnerable. Jobs and employment are the surest way to reduce poverty and inequality. Impact is further multiplied in communities and across generations if we purposefully empower women and girls, and young people. 

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2023

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