The World Rises Out of Extreme Poverty

In 1800, 90% of the world's population lived in extreme poverty. In 2019, 10% did. During this 220 year span, 80% of the population of Earth rose out of extreme poverty. Which you can watch happen in the following short video animation of Gapminder's year-by-year global income distribution data.

Regions are grouped by color - red for Asia, blue for Africa, green for the Americas and yellow for Europe (which includes Russia). You can drill down to country-specific data using Gapminder's income mountain data visualization tool, where you can unstack the data to better follow a particular region, or just one country in particular.

We found some surprising results:

  • Most of a country's shift out of extreme poverty begins coincides with its industrialization.
  • The entire population of the U.S. has been effectively out of extreme poverty since about 1940.
  • Most of China's population was stuck in extreme poverty through 1976, after which, the country suddenly began advancing out of it, slowly at first, then much more quickly, as if they had been unnaturally constrained before.
  • India's rise out of poverty is also impressive, though it started progressing earlier than China and has maintained a somewhat slower pace.
  • The largest country whose population still mostly falls below the extreme poverty line is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which though it has grown significantly in population, has fallen back behind other countries in its region in recent decades.

Of course, watching the short video we threw together is no substitute for playing with the income mountain tool, or any of the other fascinating tools available at Gapminder!