Things might seem pretty rough around the world, from the massive refugee crisis in Europe to the ever-encroaching threat of global climate change. But on Sunday, the World Bank made a major announcement saying it believes the globe is making serious progress towards eliminating one of the planet's most vicious problems: extreme poverty.
According to the agency's new forecasts, the number of people living on under $1.90 a day is expected to drop below 10% of the world's population by the end of the year, the first time that benchmark has ever been achieved.
"The World Bank projects that global poverty will have fallen from 902 million people or 12.8% of the global population in 2012 to 702 million people, or 9.6% of the global population, this year," the agency wrote in a statement posted on its website.
However, the agency warned that the data shows sub-Saharan African countries have taken on a large subset of the world's population living in extreme poverty, and without significant efforts to alleviate poverty there, may become face even more entrenched problems in the future.
Jim Yong Kim, the bank's president, said in the statement, "This is the best story in the world today — these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty. This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty."
"It will be extraordinarily hard, especially in a period of slower global growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change," Kim added. "But it remains within our grasp, as long as our high aspirations are matched by country-led plans that help the still millions of people living in extreme poverty."
However, the Financial Times reports that adjustments made to the bank's methodology to reach these new conclusions are not universally supported by economists, specifically the fact that if the bank raised its measurement of poverty by just a few more cents more it would have reached much higher conclusions about global levels of extreme poverty.
Peter Lanjouw, former head of the World Bank's poverty research unit, told the news site, "We are talking about a very dense population of people right near the poverty line [around the world]. So little shifts in the poverty line result in millions of people falling into, or rising out of, poverty."