Why numbers matter – challenging the ‘bottom billion’

Many more people are living in poverty around the world than the typical figures would have us believe. This could have deep consequences for global efforts to tackle poverty.

The most famous figure is that of the “bottom billion” living on less than $1.25 a day. It’s become a staple part of the taglines of NGO campaigns, conference invitations of global institutions and reports in the media. But take a closer look, and you’ll find that the $1.25 a day concept would at best cover those that the United Nations considers living in ‘extreme poverty’. Ignored in this narrow calculation are billions more.

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