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Who are the poor in the developing world?

World Bank

The World Bank (WB), founded in 1944 and headquartered in Washington, is an international organisation specialising in finance under the United Nations umbrella. It defines itself as a source of financial and technology assistance for developing countries. Its declared purpose is to reduce poverty through low-interest loans, interest-free credits to banks and economic support to developing nations. 189 countries are members.

This document presents a new demographic profile of extreme and moderate poverty, defined as those living on less than USD 1.90 and between USD 1.90 and USD 3.10 a day, respectively, based on household survey data from 89 developing countries. Some of the key findings are:

  • 80% of the extreme poor and 75% of the moderate poor live in rural areas.
  • Over 45% of the extreme poor are children under 15 years old and nearly 60% of the extreme poor live in households with three or more children.
  • Gender differences in poverty rates are muted, and there is scant evidence of gender inequality in poor children’s attainment.
  • A sizable share of the extreme and moderate poor, 40 and 50% respectively, have completed primary school.
  • Compared with the extreme poor, the moderate poor are significantly more likely to have completed primary school and are less likely to work in agriculture.

The results reinforce the importance of efforts to reduce extreme poverty in rural households and those with a large number of children. They also demonstrate that educational attainment and urbanization contribute to hastening poverty reduction.