The massive drop in extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.90 a day) is perhaps the best story of the past generation. However, for a more nuanced picture of global poverty, we must look at more than just extreme poverty. We must also consider regional variation and think about different conceptions of poverty altogether. The World Bank now has a second poverty threshold set at $3.20 a day to account for the fact that, as countries get richer, the cost of a minimum quality of life increases. The good news is that the number of people earning between $1.90 and $3.20 is also decreasing. However, different regions are on different trajectories.
South Asia only recently saw the number of people making between $1.90 and $3.20 begin to decline. Sub-Saharan Africa has yet to reach this turning point. These trends underscore the dynamic nature of poverty; despite progress, there are still many who are close enough to the extreme poverty line that they risk falling below it again.
Finally, it is important to recognize that income is not the only way to think about a good life. We look at other indicators such as health, nutrition, education, and financial services in the following pages.