Friday, 9 March 2012

Living on $1 a day

For years now, I've been under the illusion that the $1 a day figure quoted for people living in poverty was misleading, since a US dollar would go quite a long way in many developing countries, so it wasn't a realistic measure of poverty.

Today, I learned from the BBC news website, that the people who worked this stuff out had been a lot cleverer than I'd imagined, and in fact, it really is a useful measure of poverty.  Here's a clip of what the article said:
They looked at the price of hundreds of goods in developing countries. And then with reference to national accounts, household surveys and census data, they calculated how much money you would need in each country to buy a comparable basket of essential goods that would cost you $1 in the USA.
You were under the global poverty line if you couldn't afford that basket.
It's still a reality of life for 13% of people in China; 47.5% in Sub-Saharan Africa; 36% in South Asia; 14% in East Asia and the Pacific; 6.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Almost 1.3bn people in total.
That's quite a bit different, I think you'll agree.  A dollar won't fill much of a shopping basket in the US, yet people really do have to live on such a tiny amount.

I hope that makes you think as much as it has me.

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