Nigeria Replace India As County With Poorest People

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Last September, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released its annual Goalkeeper’s report, highlighting the extraordinary progress made in reducing extreme poverty around the world, while also warning that sustaining this progress would not be easy.

We now have the first actual data points that ring the alarm bells about a new, unfolding story on global poverty reduction that is far less favorable than pieces such as Nick Kristof’s New York Times column “Why 2017 was the best year in human history.” These new data are available courtesy of the World Poverty Clock, a web tool produced by World Data Lab with which the three of us are associated. (A paper presenting the methodology underpinning the World Poverty Clock has been published by Nature’s Palgrave Communications journal.)

Each April and October, the World Poverty Clock data are updated to take into account new household surveys (an additional 97 surveys were made available this April) and new projections on country economic growth from the International Monetary Funds’s World Economic Outlook. These form the basic building blocks for poverty trajectories computed for 188 countries and territories, developed and developing, across the world.

The data highlight two new storylines about what is happening to global extreme poverty.

According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot (Figure 1 below). At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million morepeople living in extreme poverty than there are today.

  • Already, Africans account for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor. If current trends persist, they will account for nine-tenths by 2030. Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world—where the number of extreme poor is rising—are in Africa.
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