April 13, 2014 7:14 pm

The Fragile Middle: millions face poverty as emerging economies slow

Data show 2.8bn people in the developing world sit just above the poverty line, at risk of slipping back as economic growth in emerging markets slows

More than one-third of the world lives on between $2 and $10 a day, making this “fragile middle” the world’s biggest income group. Some 2.8bn people – 40 per cent of the world’s population – were earning $2-$10 a day in 2010, the latest year for which data are available from the World Bank’s income distribution database.

Adjusting for inflation and purchasing power, the share of those living below $2 per day has dropped markedly since 1981, from 70 per cent of those living in developing countries to two in five – but the bulk of those lifted out of poverty remain only just above the line. About 1.5bn people were earning between $2 and $4 a day in 2010, and this $2-$4 group has grown more quickly than any other across the income spectrum.

Trends in poverty reduction have differed markedly between countries. China’s economic prowess of recent decades has lifted millions above the $2 a day mark, but India has lagged behind the developing world average.

Source: PovcalNet: an online tool for measuring poverty produced by the Development Research Group of the World Bank

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.