Global poverty has dropped significantly while middle- and low-income American families have lost gains in wealth.
Some good news to close out the year comes from the World Bank: Global poverty has dropped significantly over the last few decades. In the recent report Ending Poverty and Sharing Prosperity, the World Bank says the number of people in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 a day) has halved since 1990, according to the latest figures. From 2008 to 2011 alone, China and India combined saw an estimated 232 million people rise out of extreme poverty. The World Bank is working toward a goal of reducing extreme poverty to less than 3 percent of the global population by 2030.
The World Bank report makes an interesting contrast with last week’s Pew analysis finding that middle- and low-income American families have lost gains in wealth growth made over the past few decades. Among low-income households, in fact, median net worth was lower in 2013 than in 1983 (calculated in 2013 dollars). With upper-income families now holding substantially more wealth than three decades ago, America’s wealth gap has reached a record high. (A recent Quartz essay notes that as of 2012, wealth inequality in San Francisco, as measured by a city agency, was more pronounced than that in Mumbai.)
Developed and developing markets are coming to look more alike than different, for the better and also for the worse.