Global Absolute Poverty: Present and Past since 1820

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter relies on a global data set on basic commodity prices to provide first estimates of global extreme poverty in the long run using a “cost of basic needs” approach.1 For 135 years since 1820, more than half of the global population lived in conditions of extreme poverty. It took another 46 years to cut this rate in half, which only happened as recently as 2001. In the years that followed, the reduction of extreme poverty accelerated tremendously, and in 13 more years the global poverty rate was halved again. Compared to other available estimates, the world in the 19th century was less poor than we had thought, but poorer in the more recent period. Notably, the total number of people living in conditions of extreme poverty in 1820 stands at 757 million, which is almost identical with the count two centuries later in 2018, at 764 million.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHow Was Life? Volume II
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Well-being and Global Inequality since 1820
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherOECD Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9789264403154
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


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