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Has the world overlooked a major achievement? Globally, we are on course to wiping out extreme poverty in the early 2020's.

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The proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10% for the first time. 

That, at least, is the view of the World Bank, which has been monitoring global poverty since 1990.

global poverty by percentage chart has the world overlooked a major achievement World Economic Forum

As extreme poverty has fallen, developing countries’ “working middle class,” defined as people living on more than $4 per day, has grown, from only 18% of their workforce in 1991 to one-half today. In the same period, the proportion of undernourished people in developing regions has also fallen sharply, from 23.3% to 12.9%.

The rapid decline in extreme poverty may not attract viewers and readers, but its impact on human welfare surely outstrips that of terrorism. In 1990, 1.95 billion people, or nearly 37% of the world’s population, lived in extreme poverty; today there are 702 million. If the proportion of people living in extreme poverty had remained unchanged, there would be 2.7 billion of them. In other words, the decline in poverty has improved the lives of almost two billion people.

Extreme poverty kills, through inadequate food and diseases like malaria, measles, and diarrhea. So it is not surprising that a drop in child mortality has accompanied the decline in extreme poverty. In 1990, 35,000 children per day died before reaching their fifth birthday. Today that figure is down to 16,000.

Yes, 16,000 child deaths a day is far too many, and the fact that 2015 was the hottest year on record shows that the struggle against climate change has only just begun. But we can build on the gains made last year. We need to be active citizens, pushing our leaders not just to meet, but to surpass, the emission targets they have pledged to achieve. If we live in an affluent society, we should also demand that our country play its role in reducing extreme poverty. And, whatever our government does, we can find out which charities fighting poverty are the most effective–and contribute to them.

Top Reddit comment:

We've basically overlooked that we (almost) achieved the Millennium Goals, on time.

And that the world now has a Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Oh, and while we're talking about stuff that the media doesn't have any interest in: Did anybody else notice that Ebola isn't seen as a global threat anymore?

Bill Gates thinks the world could end poverty by 2030.

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