World Bank: poverty rate fell in 2005-2008

The number of people living on less than $1.25 a day declined between 2005 and 2008, World Bank report said.

An estimated 1.29 billion people in 2008 lived in extreme poverty, equal to 22 percent of the population of the developing world, the World Bank said in an e-mailed release. By contrast, 1.94 billion people in 1981 were living below $1.25 a day. The reduction over the period “marks a first since the Bank began monitoring extreme poverty,” it said.

Analysis since 2008 shows that, “while the food, fuel and financial crises over the past four years had at times sharp negative impacts on vulnerable populations and slowed the rate of poverty reduction in some countries, global poverty overall kept falling,” the release said.

“The crisis certainly caused a lot of pain and suffering around the world but the momentum in reducing poverty has been maintained,” Martin Ravallion, director of the Bank’s research group, said in a press conference, Bloomberg reported.

The percentage of those living in extreme poverty dropped in every region of the developing world, the release said. Preliminary estimates for 2010 — based on a smaller sample size than in the global update — indicate that the $1.25-a-day poverty rate had fallen to under half of its 1990 proportion by 2010, the Bank said.