South Asia has made remarkable progress in reducing extreme poverty as compared to the rest of the world, but a lot of work has to be done to improve the wellbeing of relatively poor in the region, including in India, a top World Bank official said Wednesday.
South Asia has made remarkable progress in reducing extreme poverty as compared to the rest of the world, but a lot of work has to be done to improve the wellbeing of relatively poor in the region, including in India, a top World Bank official said Wednesday. Between 1990 and 2015, the world experienced a 25-percentage point drop in extreme poverty against a 35 percentage-point drop in South Asia, Dean Jolliffe, Lead Economist at the World Bank said Wednesday ahead of the release of the World bank report ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle’.
The report to be released on October 17 rues that despite the tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty, rates remain stubbornly high in low-income countries and those affected by conflict and political upheaval. The World Bank’s preliminary forecast is that extreme poverty has declined to 8.6 per cent in 2018. “If we look at how South Asia compared over that same time span, poverty rate in 1990 in South Asia was just a little bit over 47 per cent and that now in 2015 is just a little bit over 12 percent.
So that’s a 35-percentage point drop and an extreme poverty rate in South Asia over that same time period,” he said. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to a new low of 10 per cent in 2015, down from 11 per cent in 2013, reflecting steady but slowing progress, the World Bank data shows. The World Bank in a release did not provide a country-wise breakdown of the poverty level in South Asia.
“The pace of reduction in extreme poverty is really quite remarkable in South Asia. This decline and extreme poverty are much faster than in the rest of the world,” he said. “Our estimates moving out to 2030 indicate that essentially more than 85 percent of the extreme poor will be in Sub Saharan Africa. So South Asia will just be a relatively small portion of the extreme poor at that point in time,” he said.
Extreme poverty will continue to decline in South Asia and it will soon be in single digits, Jolliffe said. “But if one takes a value of poverty line that’s just slightly higher than that USD 1.90 dollar, it is a slightly different story, he noted. Almost half of the people in South Asia (49 per cent) are in extreme poverty if its base line is increased slightly to USD 3.20,” he said.
“The focus should continue to be on reducing extreme poverty in South Asia,” he said. “But as soon as we take a slightly broader view of poverty, if we look at slightly higher lines or if we look at other dimensions, then we’re back in this a case where there’s still a tremendous amount of work left to be done to improve the wellbeing of the relatively poor in South Asia, including India,” Jolliffe told PTI in response to a question.
According to the forthcoming report, fewer people are living in extreme poverty around the world, but the decline in poverty rates has slowed, raising concerns about achieving the goal of ending poverty by 2030 and pointing to the need for increased pro-poor investments.