71 Percent of Humans Live on $10 a Day or Less

The number of people living in poverty worldwide is dropping. But much of the world still gets by on very little.

71 Percent of Humans Live on $10 a Day or Less Photo (cc) by shanastine

First, the good news: The number of people living in poverty worldwide has decreased since the start of the 21st century, and the global middle class has nearly doubled.

Now for the bad news: One decade into the century, 71 percent of the world’s population was still considered low-income or poor — meaning they live on $10 a day or less.

These statistics are among the findings of a report released by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday.

Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at Pew, tells CNN Money:

“The world has made tremendous strides in pulling people out of poverty, but most of the growth has been only one step up the economic ladder. [People] are potentially one financial shock away from slipping back into poverty.”

The report is based on Pew’s analysis of how the income distribution of the world’s population changed between 2001 and 2011, with a focus on the global middle class.

For the report, Pew examined 111 countries, which accounted for 88 percent of the global population and 85 percent of the world output as of 2011.

The people who moved up to a new income-distribution class between 2001 and 2011 were concentrated in a few regions, mainly China, South America and Eastern Europe, the report states.

The middle class “barely expanded” in such regions as India and Southeast Asia, Africa and Central America.

Pew defines the middle class modestly — people who live on about $10 to $20 per day, or an annual income of about $14,600 to $29,200 for a family of four.

Are you surprised by Pew’s findings? Let us know what you think in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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