Poverty Facts - Compassion International

Quick Facts About Poverty
Learn the facts about poverty and how it affects children and families in need.

poverty facts graphic

Poverty is a devastating problem of global proportions. To be effective in fighting poverty, we need to understand the truth about it. These poverty facts shine some light onto the reality of poverty around the world.

Poverty is a ruthless and relentless enemy with an arsenal of weapons: infant mortality, hunger, disease, illiteracy and child labor, among other things. The list of obstacles the poor most overcome seems endless. These poverty facts highlight the devastating effect poverty has on its victims, especially the most vulnerable.

  • Based on the updated poverty line of $1.90 a day, World Bank projections suggest that global poverty may have reached 700 million, or 9.6 percent of global population, in 2015. 1
  • Globally, 1.2 billion people (22 percent) live on less than $1.25 a day. Increasing the income poverty line to $2.50 a day raises the global income poverty rate to about 50 percent, or 2.7 billion people. 2
  • Among the poor living on less than $1.25 per day, just under half have electricity. 3
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for about 80 percent of the global poor and 81 percent of all child deaths in the world. 3
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 43 percent of the global poor. 1
  • 30 percent of the world’s extremely poor live in India. 4
On average, a child in our sponsorship program spends 4,000 hours in safe, nurturing programs, is at least 50 percent more likely to graduate college, is 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment and is 35 percent more likely to find white-collar employment as an adult.
  • Almost three-fifths of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Nigeria. 4
  • A third of all poor in the developing world are children 0–12 years. 3
  • Indigenous peoples make up about 5 percent of the world’s population but for some 15 percent of the world’s poor. 2
  • In developing countries (where 92 percent of children live) 7 in 100 will not survive beyond age 5. 2
  • In developing countries nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth. 5
  • Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life. 5
  • Every day, 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum. Most maternal deaths occurred in developing countries. 4

An Indonesian mother and child walk along a muddy street

What is Poverty?

"Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit." — Eli Khamarov, writer

"As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest."
— Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

"Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die."
— Bono, singer-songwriter and philanthropist

More Famous Quotes About Poverty

  • An estimated 289,000 maternal deaths occurred worldwide in 2013. Some 62 percent of these were in Sub-Saharan Africa. 4
  • Poverty is concentrated in rural areas and the poor are most likely to earn income in agriculture. 3
  • More than eight in 10 Americans (84 percent) are unaware global poverty has decreased by more than half in the past 30 years. More than two-thirds (67 percent) say they thought global poverty was on the rise over the past three decades. 6
Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the first of the World Bank Group’s goals. Ending extreme poverty is defined as reducing the share of the global population living below the international poverty line ($1.90 a day) to below 3 percent . . . Achievement of the global poverty target of would leave an estimated 270 million people impoverished. 1
  • Annual per capita consumption growth of four percent in every country around the world, combined with no change in income distribution in each country, would result in a reduction of global poverty to about 3 percent of the world’s population by 2030. 4
  • Among U.S. adults, concern about extreme poverty has declined from 21 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2013. 6
How do the UN Sustainable Development Goals relate to Compassion?

several children look outside through a window

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.