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A new study has shown that the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic could thrust hundreds of millions more into extreme poverty, bringing the total number to over 1 billion worldwide and reversing decades of progress on poverty reduction. 

In the study, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and King's College London used data from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Goldman Sachs, International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to consider various possible economic scenarios.  

The study examines three poverty lines, which represent different standards of what poverty means for different countries. 

A 5%, 10%, or 20% drop in income as a result of a recession caused by COVID-19 among the higher poverty line of less than $5.50 USD a day — the threshold used among upper-middle-income countries — could see the number of people living below this poverty line increase by 124, 250, and 520 million, respectively. 

Likewise, the number of people living on less than $3.20 a day could increase by 130 million, 280 million, and 580 million should global income and consumption contract due to COVID-19 by 5%, 10%, or 20%, respectively. 

Those living below the extreme poverty line of less than $1.90, meanwhile, could increase by 80, 180, and 420 million.

"This study shows that the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals on no poverty and zero hunger, is under considerable threat,” Kunal Sen, the director of UNU-WIDER, a part of the United Nations University and where the report was published, said in a media release. “The need of the hour is to bring together development agencies, national governments, civil society, and the private sector in a global effort to protect the livelihoods and lives of the poorest of the poor in the Global South.” 

Poverty is likely to increase significantly in India, followed by middle-income developing Asian nations like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Pakistan.

Sub-Saharan African, East Asia, and the Pacific will also be hard hit. 

"Extreme poverty in Australia's immediate region is likely to skyrocket," Christopher Hoy, a researcher at ANU and the report’s co-author, wrote for an ANU media release. "In other regions such as the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, the adverse impacts of COVID-19 could result in poverty levels similar to those recorded 30 years ago."   


Defeat Poverty

Economic Fallout From COVID-19 Could Thrust Hundreds of Millions More Into Poverty: Report

By Madeleine Keck