You didn’t know, did you? In 2000, the United Nations set a “millennium development goal” of cutting in half between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people living in poverty. The share of those in poverty in 1990 was 45% of the world’s population. The target, a proportional one, was to reduce from 45% to 23% by 2015 the share of those living in poverty. The actual number in developing countries living on less than $1 a day, the definition of extreme poverty, in 1990 was 1.8 billion.
The UN now estimates that by 2015, the share of the world’s people living in poverty won’t be 23%, it will be down to 15%! And in absolute numbers, which was not the target goal, the 1.8 billion in the developing world living in extreme poverty will be down to 900 million, meaning that in a larger world with more people, the absolute number living on $1.25 a day (the new definition of extreme poverty; it accounts for inflation) will have been cut in half. This is an amazing success.
East Asia is responsible for the sharpest reduction in poverty, particularly China, along with India to its south. The number of people living in extreme poverty in both countries fell by about 455 million between 1990 and 2005, and 320 million more people are expected to join their ranks by 2015. In that year, India’s poverty rate will be down from 51% in 1990 to just 22%, and China’s will be down to a mere 5%! Shouldn’t we be celebrating, and let me be blunt, capitalism’s success? (Download the “The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2011" here.)