Over the past decade, the developing world has seen much progress in the fight to end absolute poverty. Recent research has predicted that the end of absolute poverty could occur within our lifetime by the year 2030.
Drawing on previous research done, Martin Ravallion, former director of the World Bank’s research department, assessed how long it would take to “lift one billion people out of such extreme poverty.” In 1990, 43% of the population of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. By 2010, that number had dropped to 21%. This was attributed to strong GDP growth over the past decade in East Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, three regions accounting for the bulk of absolute poverty. If this rate of growth continues, we may expect to see as little as 0.2 billion people in absolute poverty by 2027.
As of 2012, 1.2 billion people around the world still live on less than $1.25 a day. Essentials such as shelter, clothing, and proper health care and education have to be forgone to afford food to eat. Though Ravallion’s research indicates a good outlook, there is still much work to be done. To maintain this path, what is needed is ongoing success in poverty reduction, including maintaining “the conditions for continued, reasonably rapid, economic growth.” Poor people need ongoing access to schooling, health care, job opportunities, and financial resources in order to sustain this economic growth.
Charles Kenny, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, believes that it should be the concern of the rich world’s policy makers to keep this outlook consistent. He cites a need to continue providing financial aid and support to poverty reduction policies, along with increasing economic trade with the developing world, increasing immigration from poor countries, and supporting the development of new technologies. Ivan Lewis, Shadow Secretary for International Development, emphasizes a need to focus on this goal of ending absolute poverty. “In the next 20 years we should judge the scale of our ambition and our commitment primarily by whether we can change the life chances for the poorest 20% in every country, and those trapped in the misery of conflict ridden states,” said Lewis.
Rapid economic growth is occurring throughout the world. The world average GDP per capita and life expectancy is increasing and infant mortality is declining. Literacy and access to internet and safe drinking water is on the rise. Matt Ridley, a British author and journalist, writes in his book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, “I am a rational optimist: rational, because I have arrived at optimism not through temperament or instinct, but by looking at the evidence.” For now, we can all be rational optimists.