The World Bank is to change its global poverty line, raising its measure by a half to about $1.90 per day in a move likely to swell the statistical ranks of the world's poor by tens of millions. The move from $1.25 would be the biggest revision since the World Bank introduced its $1 a day yardstick of global poverty in 1990.
The UN has said that 836 million people live in extreme poverty and about one in five people in developing regions live on less than $1.25 per day, the current World Bank yardstick. Although it is difficult to predict exactly how many more people will be defined as poor, when researchers at the bank earlier this year tested a notional poverty line of $1.92 it led to a surge of 148m.
Most of the difference came in East Asia where the ranks of those falling below the poverty line almost doubled from 157m at the old $1.25/day measure to 293m. In Latin America the result was an increase of 8m, or more than 25 per cent in the number of poor to 37m, while in South Asia the ranks of the poor grew by 7m to 407m. Under that line sub-Saharan Africa remained steady at some 416m.