Will poverty eventually decrease into nothing?

Unfortunately, poverty is something that is still very present in today’s modernised world. Though poverty rates have decreased throughout time, that does not make today’s poverty rates justifiable.


In 2017, the demographics for extreme poverty in all the world’s continents (except Antarctica) in chronological order from the most poor to the least were as follows (approximately):

  • Africa – 383,000,000 (383 million)
  • Asia – 327,000,000 (327 million)
  • South America – 19,000,000 (19 million)
  • North America – 13,000,000 (13 million)
  • Oceania – 2,500,000 (2.5 million)
  • Europe – 700,000 (0.7 million)

According to a study by economists Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, the percentage rate of extreme poverty in the world, extreme poverty meaning “living with less than 1$ {€0.86) per day”, was at 84% 198 years ago in 1820. This number kept declining throughout the years and in the early 1990s, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty was at 24%, 60% less than it was around 170 years earlier.

Therefore, throughout the years, the rates of extreme poverty have always been gradually decreasing. Will this eventually decrease into nothing? Believe it or not, that’s up to us.

During the 2005 ‘Make Poverty History’ rally in London, the late former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela said these words: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings.” Let us analyse this quote.


Slavery, although now illegal in some countries where it was legal in the past, still is present in today’s world in countries like: North Korea, India, Uzbekistan, China, Russia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Sudan, Dominican Republic, Yemen, Iraq, Indonesia, Philippines, Guatemala, Nigeria, et cetera. When one talks of slavery today, this usually refers to the exploitation and sales of children, servile or forced marriage, debt bondage, forced labour and human trafficking.

Apartheid in South Africa was ended just recently. The system was ended after a series of talks and negotiations as well as through one-sided steps made by the F. W. de Klerk government between the years 1990 and 1993. One can relate apartheid to racial segregation, which is undoubtedly still present in today’s world.


Therefore, though more regulated, slavery and apartheid/racial segregation are still present in today’s world in some form. Many were those who tried to overcome and eradicate these two problems on a global level yet it seems impossible. And so is poverty. Poverty decreased throughout the years, but many governments around the world still don’t think of the poor and the most important thing for them is to fill up their own pockets (Read: “With great power comes great responsibility.” ). And as Mandela said, “It {poverty} is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings.” But if the “human beings” that can take this “action” do not care, then poverty will not “be overcome and eradicated” any time soon.

I just hope I am speaking too soon, but by the looks of it, I am not.

Written by: Bradley Cachia


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