Price of a pandemic: Poverty spreads

around the globe

By the end of 2020, about 100 million additional people are projected to find themselves in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day. Millions more are slipping into less extreme poverty tiers. Continued lockdowns could worsen these already grim projections in 2021.

BY ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 13, 2020

Year

2020

Year

2000

The World Bank categorizes poverty into three tiers based on data provided by individual countries:

4

billion people

in poverty

WORST-

CASE

SCENARIO

In 2021, 218 million to 306 million additional people will live on $5.50 or less per person per day, a threshold typical of middle-income countries

3

PRE-

PANDEMIC FORECAST

An additional 246 million to 318 million people will live on $3.20 or less per person per day, as seen in lower-middle- income countries

2

1

An additional 111 million to 149 million people will live on $1.90 or less per person per day in the world’s poorest countries (considered extreme poverty)

0

SOURCE: WORLD BANK

PUSHED INTO POVERTY

The devastating effects of COVID-19, combined

with other natural and economic disasters, play

out differently in each country. Many wealthier

nations have been relatively insulated; some of

the world’s poorest countries are struggling

the most. In this visualization, the longer the

colored bars, the bigger a country’s projected

jump in poverty rates from early 2019

(pre-pandemic) to late 2020.*

% of population increased

Early 2019 (before COVID-19 pandemic)

End of 2020 (during COVID-19 pandemic)

Country name

Living on $1.90 person/day or less

$3.20 or less

$5.50 or less

Each country’s red, yellow, and blue bars show the change in population share across three poverty tiers. All bars start in early 2019 and are projected to December 2020.

 

Countries ranked by the largest combined change in all three poverty tiers:

FIVE HARDEST-HIT COUNTRIES

Belize

+10.5% of population increased

+19.3%

+17.2%

Dependent on tourism, thousands lost jobs because of travel bans. Those living on $1.90 a day could rise from 14 to 24 percent by year’s end.

Zimbabwe

+9.7%

+7.5%

+5.0%

Honduras

+4.4%

+6.3%

+8.6%

Iraq

+1.2%

+5.7%

+7.8%

Sudan

+3.6%

+6.2%

+4.5%

The worst locust outbreak in decades —especially in the Horn of Africa—wiped out crops in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, deepening poverty and food crises.

NEXT 50 MOST AFFECTED COUNTRIES

Percentage of population increased

+0%

+1%

+2%

+3%

+4%

+5%

Vanuatu

Liberia

From 2000 to 2019 Liberia made progress providing safe water, education, and electricity to the poor. Those gains are now in danger.

Sao Tome and Principe

Botswana

Congo

Solomon Islands

Nicaragua

Peru

Without a strong social safety net, neighbors pooled resources in Lima to buy enough food; employment under lockdown was strictly limited.

Timor-Leste

Pacific island nations have low rates of

infection. But without tourism and trade,

over a million islanders may fall into

extreme poverty.

Haiti

Syria

Four out of five Syrians live in poverty after years of war and displacement. Fewer jobs and higher food costs made their dire situation worse.

Namibia

South Africa

South Africa’s government struggled to keep basic food prices from spiking as more

families joined the new poor in its cities.

Mexico

South Sudan

Five decades of war shape the poverty rate more than COVID-19; 12 million go hungry each day and 4.2 million children are homeless.

Algeria

Fiji

Ecuador

Angola

Kyrgyzstan

Lesotho

Africans are grappling with recession for the first time in 25 years; millions get by on less than $1.90 a day.

Albania

Bolivia

+0%

+1%

+2%

+3%

+4%

+5%

Jamaica

Nigeria

Food costs rose as much as 50 percent even as already high unemployment rates increased, fueling unrest in Nigeria during its lockdown.

St. Lucia

Sierra Leone

Tonga

Yemen

In Yemen COVID-19 travel restrictions

raised the number of malnourished

children by 20 percent; the number is

expected to reach 2.4 million this year.

Brazil

Chad

Comoros

Iran

Sri Lanka

Samoa

Zambia

Micronesia

El Salvador

Guatemala

Indigenous families in Guatemala have

been unable to sell their goods in

marketplaces and often are cut off from

health and welfare services in rural areas.

Morocco

West African migrants found themselves stuck and jobless here, unable to enter Europe and with little official aid during lockdowns.

Montenegro

Colombia

Cabo Verde

Kiribati

Paraguay

Eswatini

Philippines

Millions depend on remittances from workers outside the country. In May lockdowns cut those lifelines by 19 percent compared to 2019.

Georgia

Mauritania

Kosovo

+0%

+1%

+2%

+3%

+4%

+5%

 *BASED ON A MIDYEAR ANALYSIS OF LOW- AND

MIDDLE-INCOME COUNTRIES;

 

DATA UNAVAILABLE FOR INDIA, PAKISTAN, AND SENEGAL.

 

ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ AND EVE CONANT, NGM. SHELLEY

SPERRY. DATA SOURCE: LAKNER, C., ET AL., “HOW MUCH

DOES REDUCING INEQUALITY MATTER FOR GLOBAL

POVERTY?” JUNE 2020. FINDINGS ARE THOSE OF THE

AUTHORS, NOT WORLD BANK.

Price of a pandemic:

Poverty spreads around the globe

By the end of 2020, about 100 million additional people are projected to find themselves in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day. Millions more are slipping into less extreme poverty tiers. Continued lockdowns could worsen these already grim projections in 2021.

BY ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 13, 2020

Year

2000

Year

2020

The World Bank categorizes poverty into

three tiers based on data provided by

individual countries:

4 billion

people

in poverty

WORST-CASE

SCENARIO

In 2021, 218 million to 306 million additional people will live on $5.50 or less per person per day, a threshold typical of middle-income countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Serbia.

3

PRE-

PANDEMIC FORECAST

2

An additional 246 million to 318 million people will live on $3.20 or less per person per day, as seen in lower- middle-income countries. This is a poverty line live in South Asian countries, including India and Bangladesh.

1

An additional 111 million to 149 million people will live on $1.90 or less per person per day in the world’s poorest countries (considered extreme poverty) such as Chad, Ethiopia, and Mali.

0

SOURCE: WORLD BANK

PUSHED INTO POVERTY

The devastating effects of COVID-19, combined with other natural and economic disasters, play out differently in each country. Many wealthier nations have been relatively insulated; some of the world’s poorest countries are struggling the most. In this visualization, the longer the colored bars, the bigger a country’s projected jump in poverty rates from early 2019 (pre-pandemic) to late 2020.*

$3.20

or less

$5.50

or less

Living on $1.90

person/day or less

Country

Percentage of population in this poverty range in early 2019 (before COVID-19 pandemic)

Projected percentage of population at the end of 2020 (during COVID-19 pandemic)

Percentage of population

0

100%

%

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

Belize. Dependent on tourism, thousands lost jobs because of travel bans. Those living on $1.90 a day could rise from 14 to 24 percent by year’s end.

Countries ranked by the largest combined change in all three poverty tiers

Zimbabwe

Honduras

Iraq

Sudan. The worst locust outbreak in decades—especially in the Horn of Africa—wiped out crops in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, deepening poverty and food crises.

Vanuatu

Liberia. From 2000 to 2019 Liberia made progress providing safe water, education, and electricity to the poor. Those gains are now in danger.

Sao Tome and Principe

Botswana

Congo

Solomon Islands

Nicaragua

Peru. Without a strong social safety net, neighbors pooled resources in Lima to buy enough food; employment under lockdown was strictly limited.

Timor-Leste. Pacific island nations have low rates of infection. But without tourism and trade, over a million islanders may fall into extreme poverty.

Haiti

Syria. Four out of five Syrians live in poverty after years of war and displacement. Fewer jobs and higher food costs made their dire situation worse.

Namibia

South Africa. South Africa’s government struggled to keep basic food prices from spiking as more families joined the new poor in its cities.

South Sudan. Five decades of war shape the poverty rate more than COVID-19; 12 million go hungry each day and 4.2 million children are homeless.

Mexico

Algeria

Fiji

Ecuador

Angola

Kyrgyzstan

Lesotho. Africans are grappling with recession for the first time in 25 years; millions get by on less than $1.90 a day.

Albania

Bolivia

Jamaica

Nigeria. Food costs rose as much as 50 percent even as already high unemployment rates increased, fueling unrest in Nigeria during its lockdown.

St. Lucia

Sierra Leone

Tonga

Yemen. In Yemen COVID-19 travel restrictions raised the number of malnourished children by 20 percent; the number is expected to reach 2.4 million this year.

Brazil

Chad

Zambia

Comoros

Iran

Sri Lanka

Samoa

Micronesia

El Salvador

Guatemala. Indigenous families in Guatemala have been unable to sell their goods in marketplaces and often are cut off from health and welfare services in rural areas.

Morocco. West African migrants found themselves stuck and jobless here, unable to enter Europe and with little official aid during lockdowns.

Montenegro

Colombia

Cabo Verde

Kiribati

Paraguay

Eswatini

Philippines. Millions depend on remittances from workers outside the country. In May lockdowns cut those lifelines by 19 percent compared to 2019.

Georgia

Mauritania

Kosovo

Gabon

Tunisia

Cameroon

0%

100%

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

 *BASED ON A MIDYEAR ANALYSIS OF LOW- AND MIDDLE-INCOME COUNTRIES;

 

DATA UNAVAILABLE FOR INDIA, PAKISTAN, AND SENEGAL.

 

ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ AND EVE CONANT, NGM. SHELLEY SPERRY. DATA SOURCE: LAKNER, C., ET AL., “HOW MUCH DOES

REDUCING INEQUALITY MATTER FOR GLOBAL POVERTY?” JUNE 2020. FINDINGS ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHORS, NOT WORLD BANK.