IFPRI study into ‘ultra-poverty’ released

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The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released a study into those living on below $0.50 a day. The report, The World’s Most Deprived: Characteristics and Causes of Extreme Poverty and Hunger, finds that 162 million of the world’s poorest people— which it terms the “ultra poor”—survive on less than 50 cents a day. If concentrated in a single nation, they would comprise the world’s seventh most populous country.

Similarly to the chronic poverty reports, while acknowledging that there has been substantial progress in recent years in tackling poverty around the world the report finds that those who are among the  poorest have benefited the least from poverty reductions. The press release states:

The report shows that the poorest people typically belong to socially excluded groups, live in remote rural areas with little access to roads, markets, education, and health services, and have few assets. Households living in ultra poverty are on average four times less likely to have electricity than households living above the dollar-a-day line, and the poorest adults, men and women alike, are significantly less likely to have access to education.

The daily challenges faced by the ultra poor can over time lead to poverty traps—conditions from which individuals or groups cannot emerge without outside assistance. The report identifies three common causes of poverty traps: inability of poor families to invest in the education of their children; limited access to credit for those with few assets; and reduced productivity due to malnutrition.

The report claims to be the first to use household data from 1990-2004 to look below the dollar-a-day line to examine who the very poorest are, where they live and how they have fared over those years.

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