When the World Bank carried out its annual reclassification in July, Senegal, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen all graduated to middle-income status – countries that have reached the $1,000 (£644) or so GDP threshold.
Taken by themselves, not big news perhaps, but add to that 22 other countries which, since 2000, are no longer considered officially poor, then a quite profound global change is under way: in short, most of the world’s poor no longer live in “poor” countries.
Take India for example. Although the country’s GDP has made great strides, more than half the population still lives in poverty. Using the new Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), released by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative last summer, more poor people live in eight Indian states than 26 sub-Saharan African countries combined. According to the MPI country brief, 645 million poor people total live in India.
More and more countries are graduating from low-income countries to middle-income countries. Ghana, where an estimated 6.9 million poor people live, is expected to make the jump in 2011. But, we can’t ignore the fact that three quarters of the world’s poor live in such middle-income countries.
What about the poorest countries? Niger, the poorest by MPI standards, is home to 13.1 million poor people—93% of its population. Another common measure of poverty is how many people live on less than US$1.25 a day. Using that method, Tanzania, where 89% survive on less than US$1.25 a day, is home to about 36.8 million poor people.
While 93% living in poverty is an appalling statistic, the poor living in Niger is a mere 2% of India’s total.
Is it more important to focus on poorest countries or the actual amount of people?
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meanest Indian.