Coronavirus | Pandemic could push 150 million into extreme poverty, says World Bank

Sub-Saharan Africa, with 27-40 million new poor, and South Asia, with 49-57 million, will be badly hit, says the World Bank in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report.

Updated - October 07, 2020 10:41 pm IST

Published - October 07, 2020 04:17 pm IST - Washington

A view of the World Bank headquarters.

A view of the World Bank headquarters.

Global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years because of the disruption caused by COVID-19, exacerbating the impact of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing down poverty reduction, the World Bank said on Tuesday. The pandemic may push another 88 million to 115 million into extreme poverty or having to live on less than $1.50 per day, resulting in a total of 150 million such individuals, the Bank said in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report .

Some 9.1% to 9.4% of the world will be affected by extreme poverty in 2020, the Bank said, compared to 7.9% in the counterfactual scenario where the pandemic had not raged across the world.


Many of the newly poor individuals will be from countries that already have high poverty rates while many in middle income countries (MICs) will slip below the poverty line, as per the report. Some 82% of the total will be in MICs.

Sub-Saharan Africa, with 27-40 million new poor, and South Asia, with 49-57 million new poor, will be badly hit as per the Bank’s projections.

“The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4% of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said via a press statement.

“In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to prepare for a different economy post-COVID, by allowing capital, labour, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors. World Bank Group support... will help developing countries resume growth and respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19...,” he said.


Lack of data in India

As the government decided not to release the 2017-18 All India Household Consumer Expenditure Survey data from the 75th Round, there is an “important gap in understanding poverty in South Asia”, the report said. Consequently, the Bank has estimated India’s poverty numbers for 2017 based on “strong assumptions”, resulting in “considerable uncertainties”.

Also read | Arming India’s poor against the pandemic

In fact, a number of results in the report are incomplete, or uncertain because of the lack of data from India which, as per the report, accounted for 139 million of the 689 million people living in poverty in 2017.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.