These 7 Numbers Show How Global Poverty Remains A Huge Problem

Nearly 800 million people live on less than $1.90 a day.

More than 1 billion people escaped the grind of extreme poverty – defined as living on less than $1.90 a day – between 1990 and 2013. But despite the gains, the world remains a long way from eradicating poverty altogether, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where large numbers of people continue to languish in extreme poverty with no safety net.

To mark Tuesday’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which calls on people to connect with the poorest and build alliances for action, here are nine statistics that give a snapshot of the global poverty problem.

767 million

The number of people who live in extreme poverty around the world, on less than $1.90 a day. While still a huge number, it represents a large reduction from the 1.85 billion people who lived below the international poverty line in 1990.

19.5 percent

Children are disproportionately affected by poverty. In 2013, 19.5 percent of children in developing countries were living in extremely poor households, compared to 9.2 percent for adults, according to a UNICEF and World Bank study.

389 million

The number of people in sub-Saharan Africa who live in extreme poverty. The region is home to half of the world’s poorest people.

A child helps his mother light a fire in N'djamena, Chad.
A child helps his mother light a fire in N'djamena, Chad.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


The gross domestic product per capita in the Central African Republic, which is the poorest country in the world based on GDP and taking into account the cost of living, according research from Global Finance Magazine. This figure compares to $129,726, which is the GDP per capita for the world’s richest country, Qatar.


Just eight men own the same amount of wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world, according to an Oxfam report released earlier this year.

20 percent

If policymakers focused on tackling mental illness instead of only focusing on eliminating poverty, global misery levels could decrease by 20 percent, according to a London School of Economics study. Reducing poverty is therefore not the only key to happiness.


The U.N.’s sustainable development goals commit to ending global poverty in all its forms by 2030. However, the latest progress report said the pace of change needs to be much faster if that target is to be met.

A girl from the Peul tribe stands in a village outside Bambari, Central African Republic.
A girl from the Peul tribe stands in a village outside Bambari, Central African Republic.
Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

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