Extreme poverty, earning $1.25 or less per day, has decreased by half over the past decade. At the beginning of the decade, extreme poverty was 14.3% and declined to 7.1%. Much of the progress seen in the fight against poverty occurred after the United Nations (UN) set a goal to eliminate poverty by 2030.
Unfortunately, research predicts a surge in extreme poverty as an economic consequence of the COVID-19. Research suggests an 8% or less increase in extreme poverty will likely occur as a consequence of the pandemic, threatening to undo the progress made on eliminating extreme poverty over the last decade.
While work is often considered to be the antidote for poverty, UN data shows that 8% of workers experience extreme poverty despite their employment. A model predicting extreme poverty during the pandemic projects that the most impoverished countries in the world will see workers’ wages decrease by over $220,000,000 over the course of the pandemic. This will mean over 70,000,000 people will begin living in extreme poverty due to the pandemic, despite their efforts to be employed. Thus, this echoes the notion that having employment does not always equal adequate income. Furthermore, this suggests that poverty is not always something the individual can end without assistance. For this reason, individuals seeking and obtaining employment alone will not help keep extreme poverty to a minimum.
Just as the United Nations Development Programme played an essential role in reducing extreme poverty to 7.1%, they are still needed today to help mitigate the anticipated rise in extreme poverty during the current pandemic. With the fall in extreme poverty from approximately 30% in the 1990s when stronger efforts to eliminate extreme poverty began, it seems likely that charities and nonprofits uniting to reduce extreme poverty during COVID-19 will likewise reduce extreme poverty from the current projections.
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