Global Poverty and Standard of Living - Anthony's Library and Resources

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Global Poverty and Standard of Living



Is life worth a living?  This is a million Dollars question that has disturbed the minds of many.  From time immemorial, man (men, women and children) has suffered all manners of things, including lack of basic necessities of life, illness and diseases of all kinds, violence, killings and all sorts of negativity.

Life seems to be worthless to a vast majority of people.  A great number of people (including children), go to bed hungry with no hope of where their next meal will come from. 

Consider the statistics below, obtained from UNICEF:
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.  Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • More than 80% of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.  The poorest 40% of the world’s population accounts for 5% of global income.  The richest 20% accounts for three quarters of the world income. 
  • 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.  And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.
  • Around 27% to 28% of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.  The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.
Poverty is a big problem in the world, especially in developing countries.  Rural areas account for three in every four people living on less than US$1 a day and a similar share of the world population suffering from malnutrition. However, urbanization is not synonymous with human progress. Urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin.

Approximately half of the world’s population now lives in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.

In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuel-wood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.

Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.

According to 2006 United Nations Human Development Report –
  • Water problems affect half of humanity:
  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
  • Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
  • More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
  • Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
  • 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 litres a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 litres day.)
  • Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea
  • The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
  • Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
  • Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.
  • To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.
According to UNICEF, there were 2.2 billion children in the world in 2005 and one billion of them lived in abject poverty.  640 million children were without adequate shelter; 400 million had no access to safe drinking water, 270 million had no access to health services while children out of school worldwide were 121 million.

10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy) while 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation

Rural areas account for three in every four people living on less than US$1 a day and a similar share of the world population suffering from malnutrition. However, urbanization is not synonymous with human progress. Urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin.

Approximately half the world’s population now lives in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.

In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuel-wood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.

Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.

In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%:

1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity:

Number of people living without electricity
Region                                   Millions without electricity
South Asia                            706
Sub-Saharan Africa              547
East Asia                               224
Others                                   101

The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.

World gross domestic product (world population approximately 6.5 billion) in 2006 was $48.2 trillion in 2006.  The world’s wealthiest countries (approximately 1 billion people) accounted for $36.6 trillion dollars (76%). The world’s billionaires - just 497 people (approximately 0.000008% of the world’s population) - were worth $3.5 trillion (over 7% of world GDP). Low income countries (2.4 billion people) accounted for just $1.6 trillion of GDP (3.3%).  Middle income countries (3 billion people) made up the rest of GDP at just over $10 trillion (20.7%).

The world’s low income countries (2.4 billion people) account for just 2.4% of world exports. The total wealth of the top 8.3 million people around the world “rose 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004, giving them control of nearly a quarter of the world’s financial assets.”  In other words, about 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s financial assets in 2004.

A conservative estimate for 2010 finds that at least a third of all private financial wealth, and nearly half of all offshore wealth, is now owned by world’s richest 91,000 people – just 0.001% of the world’s population.

The next 51 percent of all wealth is owned by the next 8.4 million — just 0.14% of the world’s population. Almost all of it has managed to avoid all income and estate taxes, either by the countries where it has been invested and or where it comes from

For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment. The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.

NOTE:
The statistics above are culled from Millennium Development Goals Reports, UNICEF Human Development Reports and World Bank Data and Statistics. 

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