The news that world -wide poverty is down is surely welcome. However, the gage by which poverty and other economic levels are measured should be carefully examined before world’s citizens breath a sigh of relief. There are 6 billion people on this planet. People who live in poverty live on $2.00 or less a day. Low income people live on $2.00 – $10.00 a day. Middle, or upper middle income people, live on $10.00 – $50.00 a day. The 2011 figures compared to the 2001 figures indicate that the number of people making between $10.00 – $20.00 a day, i.e., 784.000 people, nearly doubled in that time frame. One does not need to be a Pew researcher to believe that the county that quadrupled its move from poverty to the middle class in the last 20 years is China. The above figures come from a recent Pew Research Center study as reported in the New York Times on July 9, 2015. Of course all of the above was derived from a combination of income and consumption data adjusted for purchasing power parity.
Years ago, my economics professor stated that one could lie as easily with statistics as without them. I do not believe that the above is a lie. But, I do believe that the Pew report is a jumping off point for discussion. In the US, the norm for poverty is a family of four living on$23,021.00 a year. Math is not my strong suite. But, multiplying $50.00 a day totals less than $23,021.00 annually. It must be all of that “adjusting” that leaves me in limbo. In my modest travels to other parts of the world I have encountered people who live in stick houses, sleep on dirt floors and drink from streams where others do their washing. They live, love and smile every day. They make me feel very humble as do some of my friends here in the US who budget $20.00 a week for food.