Opinion · Poverty Facts

Gates Foundation on global poverty

I heard Raj Shah, Director, Strategic Opportunities at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation speak this week at a public conversation in Seattle on local and global poverty. He made some interesting remarks and shared some data they use at the Gates Foundation.

  • Gates Foundation has a vision on basic human rights … that every person should:
    • have a shot at a healthy full-length life
    • have an opportunity for a basic education
    • be able to provide for their basic needs
  • Top things that developing nations have missed out on preventing them from benefiting from wealth creation enjoyed by developed nations:
    • Massive agricultural productivity increases
    • Industrial revolution
    • Knowledge revolution
  • Gates Foundation estimates poverty breakdown as follows:
    • 1 billion people live on <$1/day
    • another 2 billion people live on $1-$2/day
    • another 1 billion people live on $2-$4/day
    • for a total of 4 billion people living on <$4/day
  • To provide context for these income levels …
    • the USA federal poverty level for a family of 3 is set at $16,000/year
    • this is equivalent to ~$15/person/day or almost 4x what 4 billion people live on
    • many people think that the USA poverty level should be 2x of $32,000/year for a family of 3
  • 11 million children under the age of 5 die each year of which 50% could have been saved with proper vaccines at the cost of about US$0.12-0.13 each.
  • 430 million people have been able to escape poverty in the past few decades because of an agricultural innovation (which improved the productivity and resiliency of certain crops) known as the green revolution
  • Monsanto has developed a drought-resistant gene which could have significant benefit for many countries crop output — especially those which haven’t benefited from the green revolution

I looked up the World Bank’s latest statistics on global poverty in their 2005 report. Due to their research cycles, the latest data is from 2001:

  • ~1.1 billion people live on <$1/day
  • ~1.6 billion people live on $1-$2/day
  • for a total of ~2.7 billion people living on <$2/day

One thought on “Gates Foundation on global poverty

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