Did you hear the breaking news? Yesterday, 138,000 people rose out of extreme poverty. Another 138,000 rose out of extreme poverty the day before. And the day before that, too. Of course you didn’t, because a plane crash or a terrorist attack is news, but slow and steady progress is not. Even 50million people rising out of poverty in a single year is not news. But this happens to be the most important story of our time: poverty, as we know it, is disappearing from our planet.
Since 1990, when social critic Naomi Klein claimed that global capitalism lapsed into its most savage form, the proportion who live in extreme poverty – according to a $1.9-a-day poverty line, adjusted for local purchasing power and inflation – has been reduced from 37 per cent, to less than 10 per cent.
At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, the world’s countries set the goal of halving the 1990 incidence of extreme poverty by 2015. This was met five years ahead of the deadline. And even though the world population grew by more than two billion between 1990 and 2015, the number of people who live in extreme poverty was reduced by more than 1.25 billion people.