Global poverty figures grossly underestimated: Study

London, April 11: Calling the $1.25 (Rs.75) per day poverty line used by the World Bank “too low” and “artificial”, researchers have now estimated that global poverty could be a third higher than currently reported.

The World Bank is reporting a ‘rosy’ picture because the poverty line is set too low due to its narrow definition, said the study.

“If the World Bank had, in fact, used a poverty line grounded in basic needs, rather than its present artificial one which only looks at one monetary measure, the total number of poor people in the world would increase substantially, perhaps by as much as 30 percent,” explained Christopher Deeming from University of Bristol in Britain.

With over one billion people in the world living on less than $1.25 per day, the World Bank aims to end ‘extreme poverty’ by 2030.

The World Bank figures are widely used by the international community and play a significant role in international strategies to reduce poverty.

For the study, researchers looked at those living on the Pacific island state of Vanuatu – taking into account not just their finances but also shelter, sanitisation, water, information, nutrition, health and education to build up a more comprehensive picture of poverty, deprivation and inequality.

The study found that five percent of all children in Vanuatu live in poverty, as defined by the international ‘dollar a day’ measure.

But a much greater proportion (17 percent) live in poverty defined by the national food and basic needs poverty line; and absolute poverty, where people are deprived of two or more basic human needs, affects 16 per cent of children, said the study.

“Our findings suggest that the current international poverty line of a dollar a day seriously underestimates global poverty levels,” Deeming noted.

In the context of Vanuatu, our triangulated results suggest under-estimation of poverty by at least a third in the population aged 17 years or under, he said in the study appeared in Journal of Sociology.

The findings come amidst considerable controversy surrounding the international ‘dollar a day’ measure used to monitor progress against the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and the future direction of the post-2015 development agenda.

IANS