Gallup, Inc., the global research firm, recently reported that one in five people living in 131 countries, including most of the residents of twenty-seven sub-Saharan African nations, barely survive on $1.25 a day or less, the World Bank's definition of “extreme poverty.” The World Bank Group has resolved that the poor must be lifted out of poverty and has set the laudable, but ambitious goal of reducing the rate of extreme poverty to 3 percent or less of the world's population by 2030.
Despite the stunning implications of the data Gallup has collected from thousands of households, a world virtually free of extreme poverty is, in fact, within our reach. Since 1980 more than one billion people, once poor, are no longer living in poverty. In the past fifteen years alone, nearly fifty developing nations have, on average, enjoyed a 5 percent annual increase in their gross domestic product.
The poorest of the poor have also seen their lives improve. Thanks to job creation and economic development, extreme-poverty households in developing countries actually declined from 52 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in 2010.
Progress can be seen all over the world. Since 1960, India's per capita income has quadrupled, and China's has increased eight-fold. Over the same period, the life expectancy of women in sub-Saharan Africa has jumped from forty-one to fifty-five. Meanwhile, ...