A New Profile of the Global Poor

Elsevier, World Development: Volume 101, January 2018, Pages 250-267
Andrés Castañeda, Dung Doan David Newhouse, Minh Cong, Nguyen Hiroki Uematsu. João Pedro Azevedo, World Bank Data for Goals Group


This paper presents a new demographic profile of extreme and moderate poverty, defined as those living on less than $1.90 and between $1.90 and $3.10 per day in 2013, based on household survey data from 89 developing countries. The face of poverty is primarily rural and young; 80% of the extreme poor and 75% of the moderate poor live in rural areas. Over 45% of the extreme poor are children younger than 15 years old, and nearly 60% of the extreme poor live in households with three or more children. Gender differences in poverty rates are muted, and there is scant evidence of gender inequality in poor children’s educational attainment. A sizable share of the extreme and moderate poor, 40 and 50%, respectively, have completed primary school. Compared with the extreme poor, the moderate poor are significantly more likely to have completed primary school and are less likely to work in agriculture. After conditioning on other individual and household characteristics, having fewer than three children, having greater educational attainment, and living in an urban area are strongly and positively associated with welfare. The results reinforce the central importance of households in rural areas and those containing large numbers of children in efforts to reduce extreme poverty, and are consistent with increased educational attainment and urbanization hastening poverty reduction.

key words

global poverty; poverty measurement