India has reduced its poverty rate drastically from 55% to 28% in 10 years, with 271 million people moving out of poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16, according to the Global MPI 2018 Report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. The report, covering 105 countries, dedicates a chapter to India because of this remarkable progress. However, India still had 364 million poor in 2015-16, the largest for any country, although it is down from 635 million in 2005-06.
The report measures MPI, or multidimensional poverty index, which it says can be broken down to show “who is poor” and “how they are poor”. This factors in two measures, poverty rate as a percentage of the population, and intensity as the average share of deprivations that poor people experience. The product of these two is MPI. If someone is deprived in a third or more of 10 weighted indicators, the global index identifies them as “MPI poor”.
In India, poverty reduction among children, the poorest states, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims was fastest, the report says. Of the 364 million people who were MPI poor in 2015-16, 156 million (34.6%) were children. In 2005-06 there were 292 million poor children in India, so the latest figures represent a 47% decrease or 136 million fewer children growing up in multidimensional poverty.
Although Muslims and STs reduced poverty the most over the 10 years, these two groups still had the highest rates of poverty. While 80% of ST members had been poor in 2005-06, 50% of them were still poor in 2015-16. And while 60% of Muslims had been poor in 2005-06, 31% of them were still poor in 2015-16.
Bihar was the poorest state in 2015-16, with more than half its population in poverty. The four poorest states —Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh — were still home to 196 million MPI poor people, which was over half of all the MPI poor people in India. Jharkhand had the greatest improvement, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland. At the other end, Kerala, one of the least poor regions in 2006, reduced its MPI by around 92%.
Worldwide, the report found, 1.3 billion people live in multidimensional poverty in the 105 developing countries it covered. This represents 23%, or nearly a quarter, of the population of these countries. These people are deprived in at least one-third of overlapping indicators in health, education, and living standards, it says.
While the study found multidimensional poverty in all developing regions of the world, it was seen to be particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These two regions account together for 83% (more than 1.1 billion) of all multidimensionally poor people in the world.
Additionally, two-thirds of all multidimensionally poor people live in middle-income countries, with 889 million people in these countries experiencing deprivations in nutrition, schooling, and sanitation, just like those in low-income countries.
The report describes the level of global child poverty as staggering, with children accounting for virtually half (49.9%) of the world’s poor. Worldwide, over 665 million children live in multidimensional poverty. In 35 countries, at least half of all children are MPI poor. In South Sudan and Niger, some 93% of all children are MPI poor.
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