Pandemic Could Push 150 Million People Into Extreme Poverty

In the U.S., we’re annoyed that we can’t go to our favorite restaurants, or that we have to wear these darn uncomfortable masks. In other countries, people are struggling to eat. The dramatic drop in global trade and falling demand for natural resources are having devastating effects on the people living in poor nations.

We’re going backward.

The World Bank estimates another 88 million to 115 million people will fall into extreme poverty this year, and that the number could grow to 150 million next year. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.

If the estimates are correct, then it would mean around 9.2% of the world’s population living at that level, about the same percentage as in 2017. This would be the first time that we’ve gone backward in two decades.

Last year the World Bank estimated that just 8.4% of the world population was in extreme poverty, and it forecast the rate to drop to 7.5% by 2021, which was before COVID-19.

World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement:

“The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4% of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty.”

The problem isn’t confined to rural areas. The Bank found that many urban dwellers have been thrown into extreme poverty as jobs dry up from coronavirus lockdowns and reduced demand. The highest concentration of extreme poverty exists in Sub Saharan Africa.

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