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Living on Less than $2 a Day

FRIDAY, APR 06, 2018

Whenever you hear people talk about poverty, they tend to talk about it as a line. You’re either above the poverty line, or below it. If you are below the line, that means one thing – you do not have enough money to meet the basic food, clothing, and shelter needs.

Defining Poverty

Poverty lines vary greatly by location and over time. Richer countries have higher poverty lines than poorer countries because the cost of living varies from place to place. Governments revisit the poverty threshold on a yearly basis. In the United States, the Census Bureau determines the poverty line based on estimates of the level of income needed to cover basic needs. Those who live in households with earnings below those incomes are considered to be in poverty.

The World Bank uses the national lines of the group of the poorest countries to set an international poverty line. The current international poverty line is $1.90 per day.

Percentage of the World Population Living on Less than $2 a Day

The $1.90 per day poverty line translates to $693.50 per year. According to the World Bank’s recent estimates, even though the global poverty rate is on a steady decline, still more than one in ten people on the globe lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013 (10.7 percent).

With our Social Explorer mapping tools, you can take a closer look at the population living on less than $2 a day throughout the world.

Even though the global poverty rate went from 28 percent in 1999 to 10.7 percent in 2013, concentrations of extreme poverty in Africa remain. In fact, according to UN Dispatch, the most noticeable progress took place in Eastern and SouthEastern Asia, with the poverty rate dropping from 35 percent in 1999 to three percent in 2013. By contrast, 42 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa continued to live in conditions of extreme poverty in 2013.

Poverty is far from being exclusive to Africa, and even countries that neighbor each other have vastly different extreme poverty rates, such as Haiti and Dominican Republic. To find out more about poverty rates around the globe, explore the map in more detail using the interactive legend – a feature we introduced to all our maps a while ago. 

United States Wealth and Poverty

Let’s take a look at the USA and its gross domestic product, one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy. 

Investopedia defines the gross domestic product (GDP) as one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy. It represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period and is used as a shorthand for the size of the economy. 

The GDP is on the rise, but 13.5 percent of all Americans still lag behind, living below the national poverty line, according to the 2016 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). When talking about the poverty line, we rarely mention the vast spectrum of poverty. We only know the percent of the American population living under the national poverty line. How many of them are living in extreme poverty? Are there any people under the international poverty line, living on $2 a day in the USA?

The United States Census Data: Poverty is Right Around the Corner

Even some of America’s poor fall into the World Bank’s “Extreme Poverty” population. We took a look at the latest Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 2016 for more detail. There is ample evidence of the gap between the rich and the poor in geographical areas as small as counties. As an example, we mapped population living in extreme poverty in Palm Beach County, Miami, Florida.

Sign up for a free 7-day trial today to check out the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, as well as all the other datasets available to Social Explorer users. 

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