World Bank: Coronavirus Pandemic Could Push An Additional 150 Million People Into ‘Extreme Poverty’

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The coronavirus pandemic could push an additional 150 million people into poverty by the end of 2021, The World Bank said Tuesday.

Global poverty levels had been decreasing for over 20 years prior to the pandemic, according to a World Bank press release. But a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, violent conflict and climate change appear to have reversed that progress.

By the end of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic alone is expected to push between 88 million and 115 million additional people into ‘extreme poverty,’ which is defined as living on less than $1.90 per day. By the end of 2021, that total could increase to 150 million, the 2020 World Bank Poverty and Shared Prosperity report found. (RELATED: Report: Trump To Announce 2nd Task Force Focused On Economic Recovery)

“The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4% of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty,” the group’s president, David Malpass, said in the press release. “In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to prepare for a different economy post-COVID, by allowing capital, labor, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors.”

“World Bank Group support—across IBRD, IDA, IFC and MIGA—will help developing countries resume growth and respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 as they work toward a sustainable and inclusive recovery,” Malpass added in the same press release.

The number of people living in extreme poverty peaked in 1970, when over 2.2 billion people were living in extreme poverty, according to Human Progress. Since then, that number has been steadily declining, reaching about 705 million in 2015 – the last year for which Human Progress has data available.

Between 2015 and 2017, the number of people living in extreme poverty decreased by an additional 52 million, The World Bank said. Between 1990 and 2015, extreme poverty decreased by an average of 1%, slowing to an average decrease of half a percentage point between 2015 and 2017. In the United States, the poverty rate hit a record low in 2019, according to the Census Bureau.

The projected increase in extreme poverty between 2019 and 2020 is expected to be larger than any other increase since the World Bank began tracking global poverty, the group said.

“The Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020 report shows that the goal of bringing the global extreme poverty rate under 3 percent by 2030, already at risk before COVID-19 emerged, is now beyond reach without swift, significant, and substantial policy action,” The World Bank said.

“The current moment of crisis is extraordinary,” the group added. “No prior disease has become a global threat so quickly as COVID-19. Never have the world’s poorest people resided so disproportionately in conflict-affected territories and countries.”