Of the 1.3 billion people who are multidimensionally poor, more than two-thirds of them—886 million—live in middle-income countries.
Addis Ababa 12 July 2019 - The traditional concept of poverty is outdated, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). New data demonstrate more clearly than ever that labeling countries - or even households - as rich and poor is an oversimplification.
Findings from the 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) sheds light on disparities in how people experience poverty, revealing vast inequalities among countries and among the poor themselves.
The 2019 global MPI paints a detailed picture of poverty for 101 countries and 1,119 subnational regions covering 76 percent of the global population, going beyond simple income-based measures to look at how people experience poverty every day.
“To fight poverty, one needs to know where poor people live. They are not evenly spread across a country, not even within a household,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index provides the detailed information policy makers need to more effectively target their policies.”
The MPI goes beyond income as the sole indicator for poverty, by exploring the ways in which people experience poverty in their health, education, and standard of living.
This year’s MPI results show that more than two-thirds of the multidimensionally poor—886 million people—live in middle-income countries. A further 440 million live in low-income countries. In both groups, data show, simple national averages can hide enormous inequality in patterns of poverty within countries.
But new data also shows a positive trend: those furthest behind are moving up the fastest. “We looked at data for a group of ten middle- and low-income countries and we found encouraging news that the bottom 40 percent were moving faster than the rest,” says Sabina Alkire, OPHI Director. “A pro-poor pattern that reduces inequalities in several Sustainable Development Goals.”
Ethiopia witnessed an improvement in its MPI and one of largest absolute declines compared from its starting point MPI, with improvements seen in all ten of the indicators that make up the index. Those in the bottom twenty percent of the country’s population also saw the most decrease in their state of deprivation.
Despite the progress Ethiopia is still facing major challenges and has one of the largest number of people living in multidimensional poverty after India and Nigeria. Ethiopia’s rapid population growth is exacerbating the situation and holding back the country’s progress on MPI.
Multidimensional poverty remains higher in rural than the urban areas. An issue of grave concern is the fact that multidimensional poverty is falling faster for adults as compared to children. Over 90% of Ethiopian children under the age of ten classified as multidimensionally poor.
Worldwide, one in three children is multidimensionally poor, compared to one in six adults. That means that nearly half of the people living in multidimensional poverty—663 million—are children, with the youngest children bearing the greatest burden.
“Economic growth is important”, UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative Mr. Turhan Saleh noted also highlighting Ethiopia’s investments in the social sector over a number of years showing dividends in MPI progress, “but when we look at the figures we can see that investment in people, especially children, continues to be a matter of high priority if we work to tackle multidimensional poverty.
The global report highlights that there is also inequality among the poor with findings of the 2019 global MPI also painting a detailed picture of the many differences in how - and how deeply - people experience poverty. Deprivations among the poor vary enormously: in general, higher MPI values go hand in hand with greater variation in the intensity of poverty.
"We need—even amongst those living in poverty—to understand people’s different experiences of deprivation. Are they malnourished? Can they go to school? Only then will poverty reduction policies be both efficient and effective,“ says Pedro Conceição, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.
Within these ten countries, data show that 270 million people moved out of multidimensional poverty from one survey to the next. This progress was largely driven by South Asia: in India there were 271 million fewer people in poverty in 2016 than in 2006, while in Bangladesh the number dropped by 19 million between 2004 and 2014. In other countries there was less—or no—absolute reduction, with numbers of multidimensionally poor rising by 28 million across the three African countries considered. In part this was because of rapid population growth, which outstripped reductions in poverty. In fact, poverty rates (as a percentage of the population) declined in most of the countries.
Access full data: http://hdr.undp.org/en/2019-MPI