Poverty Reduction WorldwideYearly, the United Nations’ Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) provides necessary insight into the state of poverty worldwide. The three dimensions of the MPI are health, education and nutrition, taking into account various statistics and information related to each factor. The MPI provides insight into what is contributing to multidimensional poverty in various countries as well as which countries are facing the worst poverty crises. However, 2023’s MPI also revealed some important and encouraging information regarding poverty reduction worldwide. While 1.1 billion people still live in poverty, over the course of the last 15 years, 25 countries have halved their levels of multidimensional poverty. 

Where Poverty Is Declining

While poverty reduction has been seen in countries throughout the globe, many of the most successful countries have been located in Asia. In India, 415 million people have exited poverty over the last 15 years, equating to just more than 6% of the world’s population. In China, 69 million have exited poverty, and in Indonesia, another 8 million people have exited poverty. Additionally, Cambodia has slashed the number of people living in poverty in half over the last seven years.

And yet, while many have left poverty in these countries, an overwhelming majority of the world’s poor live in Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, according to the U.N., roughly five out of every six persons living in poverty are from those two regions of the world. However, that also means that these countries can look towards their neighbors for examples of how to implement successful policies aimed at poverty reduction worldwide. Each successful country has implemented programs aimed at the various dimensions of the U.N.’s Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.


India experienced a dramatic decrease in a variety of dimensions of poverty over the past 15 years. Notably, the lack of access to electricity fell from 29% of the population to just 2%. Child mortality was also slashed in half, from 4% to 2%. India has increased access to health care for millions of people over these years, much of it through the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Scheme.

Through the Ayushman Bharat, India aims to improve health care access for many poor, rural and urban families. According to the Indian Government, the program is intended to cover nearly 500 million people, giving them access to better health coverage. This will allow many more families, and hundreds of millions of children, the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives. Additionally, it will help to decrease child mortality, one of the key indicators of multidimensional poverty.


Cambodia has had particular success reducing poverty, dropping from 47.8% to 13.55% in seven years from 2007 to 2014 as a result of economic growth. As a result, life expectancy has increased by nine years, and the percentage of kids completing primary school jumped from 50% to 90%. 

The World Bank has done extensive work modernizing the Cambodian economy, as well as improving agriculture to address food insecurity now and in the future. Much of that has been done by investing in Cambodia’s agricultural productivity and making sure it is sustainable in the future. This will allow Cambodians continued access to staple crops such as rice and will boost a significant portion of the economy. 

What This Means 

The U.N.’s MPI in 2023 indicates that the actions the world is taking to reduce poverty are working, but there is still a long way to go. For every country that has slashed poverty like Cambodia, there is another country that is dealing with factors that are increasing poverty. While countries can turn to the examples provided for successful ways to deal with poverty, each situation is different, and developed countries could play a vital role in the effort to reduce worldwide.

– John Rooney
Photo: Flickr

A new report released by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) claims that according to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, 1.6 billion people are living in multidimensional poverty — which is 400 million more people than had been formerly reported.

The World Bank has recently changed its method of measuring the extent to which people are impacted by poverty by shifting to a more comprehensive method that includes various categories beyond strictly listing whether income is less than $1.25 a day.

The index operates by assessing over 100 countries and weighs the extent to which individuals are deprived of basic necessities in three major categories: education, health and living standards, depicted in this chart. These categories are then divided further: health into nutrition and child mortality; education into years of schooling and school attendance; and living standards into sanitation, water, electricity, floor, cooking fuel and assets. If an individual is deprived of a third or more of these basic necessities, they are considered to be “MPI poor.”

As noted by the index, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most impoverished regions on the globe, and are respectively comprised of 29 percent and 52 percent of the overall 1.6 billion people in poverty.

In India, while 28.5 percent of the population is classified as “destitute,” from 1999 to 2006 the MPI for the country as a whole dropped by 1.2 percentage points. Moreover, in Nepal, with an improvement in both nutrition and child mortality rates, the percentage of residents in poverty dropped from 65 percent to 44 percent in a five-year time span.

With this relatively new way to measure poverty, although the statistics are alarming, the specificity of the method allows organizations to better target and combat the various components that contribute to an impoverished existence. Measuring aspects of livelihood besides income creates a more complete picture of what needs to be done to improve overall quality of life for individuals around the world.

— Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: Huffington Post, OPHI, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: Kamla Jetly Trust

The existing poverty measurement, the Human Poverty Index, defined extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 per day. Surely the whole picture can’t be constructed based on monetary measurements alone. With the release of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2010, poverty is now measured beyond income.

“By reflecting a range of deprivations that afflict a person’s life,” the whole spectrum of development is measured. The newest international measure of poverty, the MPI, released October in 2010, incorporates elements of the HDI such as education, health and standard of living. A household is considered “multidimensionally poor” if it is deprived of 33 percent of the 10 weighted indicators used by the MPI.

The Index focuses on whether a household has a decent toilet and sanitation, electricity, children in school, clean water to drink within 30 minutes on foot and whether any members of the household are malnourished.

An example of MPI measurements marking deprivations, Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of the world’s 10 poorest countries.

Sierra Leone
81.5 percent living in poverty
53.4 percent living on $1.25 per day
52.3 percent deprived of drinking water

82.4 percent living in poverty
70.1 percent living on at least $1.25 per day
54.2 percent deprived of adequate schooling

Since poverty on the MPI is assessed on an individual level, the extent of people’s poverty and range of deprivation can be measured. The updated poverty index has numerous benefits on how development and humanitarian aid projects are carried out. The MPI can be used as an analytical tool to identify the most vulnerable people. Patterns are able to be separated by region (across or within countries,) ethnicity, urban and rural locations and individual dimensions.

This creates a better estimate of people living in poverty and shows the depth of interconnections among deprivations. The MPI excellent tool for policy makers and aid organizations to effectively promote specified development.

An improved method for measuring global poverty means improved estimates. The Human Poverty Index estimates about 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty; however, the MPI estimates 1.7 billion people in the 109 countries covered, a third of their population lives in multidimensional poverty. Showing what developing countries lack, such as adequate education or health care, adds another level of depth to poverty, showing connections between social determinants and poverty.

The MPI shows sub-Saharan Africa housing 24 of the 25 poorest countries.

Maris Brummel

Sources: The Huffington Post, UNDP
Photo: Bodhi Commons