Most Americans Believe That Poverty Is Getting Worse. Here's What The Media Is Not Telling You

October 6, 2015

As an American, there's a good chance you believe the world is falling apart. After all, the mainstream media feasts on war, scandal, and disaster.

But the most important thing happening in the world today is something the media almost never covers: a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease.

poverty is decreasing worldwide
Credit Ahmed Jallanzo/European Pressphoto Agency

recent survey found that two-thirds of Americans believe that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believe that the proportion had remained roughly the same.

That's 95% of Americans who are completely wrong.

In fact, extreme poverty has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank).

The New York Times reported these major factors to consider:

  • The number of extremely poor people (defined as those earning less than $1 or $1.25 a day, depending on who's counting) rose inexorably until the middle of the 20th century, then roughly stabilized for a few decades. Since the 1990s, the number of poor has plummeted.
  • In 1990, more than 12 million children died before the age of 5; this toll has since dropped by more than half.
  • More kids than ever are becoming educated, especially girls. In the 1980s, only half of girls in developing countries completed elementary school; now, 80 percent do.

The world's best-kept secret is that we live at a historic inflection point when extreme poverty is retreating.

"We live at a time of the greatest development progress among the global poor in the history of the world," notes Steven Radelet, a development economist and Georgetown University professor, in a terrific book coming in November, "The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World."

"The next two decades can be even better and can become the greatest era of progress for the world's poor in human history."

via ny times

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