‘Little effect’ on global poverty of development goals

Reductions in global poverty in recent years have had more to do with China's economic expansion than with the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations in 2000, according to a briefing paper from an American think tank. The UN development goals include 'eradicating extreme poverty and hunger'.

Key points

  • The number of the world's people living on less than 1.25 US dollars a day has reportedly declined from 1.94 billion in 1981 to 1.29 billion in 2005: but this is due mainly to the growth of incomes and employment in China.
  • Since 1981, the number of poor people has actually increased in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.
  • Global inequality has continued to increase in recent decades. If the world's poorer half had been allowed to gain the extra 3.49 per cent of global household income taken by the richest five per cent between 1998 and 2005, severe poverty could have been overcome.
  • The Millennium Development Goals have helped reduce poverty only marginally. The poverty reduction in China is an effect of a national developmental policy set well before the goals were conceived.

The briefing concludes that a new policy agenda is needed to address the structural causes of poverty and inequity within and among countries.

Source: Poverty & the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): A Critical Assessment and a Look Forward, Comparative Research Programme on Poverty