The rate of poverty, based on the number of people living on less than $1.5 a day, declined across the developing world between 2005 and 2008, according to a World Bank report.
Around 1.29 billion people lived below the defined poverty line in 2008, which was equivalent to 22 per cent of the population of the developing world. By contrast, 1.94 billion belonged to this extreme poverty category in 1981. The updated figures were available from surveys carried out in nearly 130 countries.
However, the nearly 663 million people who moved above the poverty line over the years are still poor by the standards of middle and high-income countries. “This bunching up just above the extreme poverty line is indicative of the vulnerability facing a great many poor people in the world. And at the current rate of progress, around one billion people would still live in extreme poverty in 2015', says Mr Martin Ravallion, Director of World Bank Research Group.
The report notes that recent post-2008 analysis revealed that global poverty overall kept falling, although food, fuel and financial crises over the past four years had sometimes sharp negative impacts on vulnerable populations and slowed down the rate of poverty reduction in some countries.
Preliminary survey-based estimates for 2010 indicated that the $1.25-a-day poverty rate had declined to under half of its 1990 value, which meant that the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the extreme poverty level from 1990 has been achieved before the 2015 deadline.
The $1.25 poverty line is the average for the world's poorest 10-20 countries. A higher $ 2-a-day line revealed less progress than the $ 1.25-a-day cut-off mark. In this case, there was only a modest drop between 1981 and 2008, from 2.59 billion to 2.47 billion.