• About 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty since 1990.
  • 15 countries have made rapid progress in reducing extreme poverty.
  • Tanzania almost halved its extreme poverty in just over a decade.
  • China, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova and Viet Nam effectively ended extreme poverty by 2015.

By 2015, according to the most recent data, 736 million people, or about 10% of the world’s population, were living in extreme poverty, which the World Bank defines as living on the equivalent of $1.90 or less per day. That's down from 1.85 billion people in 1990.

However, some countries have experienced more success than others in reducing rates of extreme poverty – China being the most obvious example.

In the past 40 years, China has taken more than 850 million citizens out of extreme poverty.

This chart shows the remarkable progress of 15 countries on cutting extreme poverty.

Anual change in extreme poverty rates (percentage points)
Around 802 million fewer people are living in extreme poverty than they were in 2000.
Image: World Bank

Across these 15 countries, an average of 1.6% of the population moved out of extreme poverty every year between about 2000 and 2015. This equates to around 802 million fewer people living in extreme poverty during that period.

Tanzania almost halved its extreme poverty rate between 2000 and 2011. It fell by an average of 3.2 percentage points per year, and Tajikistan and Chad weren’t far behind with 3.1 percentage points.

About 86% of the Tanzanian population were living in extreme poverty in 2000, down to 49.1% by 2011.

Four of the 15 countries - China, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, and Viet Nam - managed to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

Uneven progress

But although the world has made huge progress on extreme poverty reduction, progress hasn’t been even.

The majority of the 736 million people still living on less than $1.90 a day are in sub-Saharan Africa. Even among sub-Saharan high-performers such as Tanzania, rates of extreme poverty remain above 40%.

In addition, the pace of decline in the overall extreme poverty rate has slowed since 2013, and the world isn’t on track to hit the target of ending poverty by 2030.