A young girl sits a a table working on a laptop computer.
Camila Gonzalez, 9 years old, studies at home on a computer she received through Uruguay’s “One Laptop per Child” programme. Enrollment in primary education, one of the surest means of reducing poverty, has increased significantly since 2000. The enrolment rate in developing regions reached 91 percent in 2015. Photo: Pablo La Ros/UNDP

What is poverty? Is it increasing or decreasing?
We challenged people in New York City to rethink what they know about poverty. Here’s what they had to say:


Despite common misperceptions, poverty isn’t permanent!

The world is making headway in the fight against poverty. Since 1999, we’ve reduced the percentage of people around the world who live in extreme poverty from 28 percent to 11 percent.

That’s about 250,000 people worldwide who climb out of poverty EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The numbers are compelling and refute misperceptions that poverty is increasing around the world. Not convinced? Have a look at the data: 

Still not convinced? There's lots more data showing that povery is on the decline. The World Bank is one of the main sources of information on the topic. You can learn more here.

A smiling woman wearing a pink and yellow sari stands in front of a bright blue wall.
Despite common misperceptions, the world is making progress in the fight against poverty. Since 1999, the percentage of people around the world living in extreme poverty has dropped from 28 percent to 11 percent. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to finish the job and eliminate poverty completely by 2030. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh


People leave poverty

(because poverty isn’t permanent)

Now let’s take a look behind the numbers. Meet just a few of the people around the world who are building brighter futures for their families, their communities and their countries:

  • Fishing for prosperity

    At once beautiful and isolated, the island of Idjwi is confronting a number of social and environmental challenges.

  • Perking up the coffee business

    Despite the success of their coffee around the world, small producers fight to secure their future and preserve their environment.

  • Women in rural development in southern Kosovo*

    Agriculture and rural entrepreneurship can be a promising source of income for Kosovars who are willing to work the land. In a place where the unemployment rate is a staggering 32.9 percent, growing and selling produce can be the difference in making ends meet.

  • Yazidi women find economic independence

    The Dost Bakery is a small cake business in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Dost means “friend” in Kurdish, and the bakery is run by 10 friends, all displaced by conflict.

  • Cultivating change in Papua

    Farmers have discovered a new use for Sereh merah, a plant long used to drive away evil spirits.

more stories

You’ve got the power

(to change minds)

Stories like these prove that poverty isn’t permanent or inevitable. Since 1990, we’ve cut in half the number of people who live in extreme poverty. Yet 7 out of 10 people think that poverty has only increased.

Sustainable Development Goal 1 aims to completely eradicate extreme poverty within a generation – by 2030 to be exact. Achieving this goal starts with changing the common misconception that poverty will always be with us. How do we change this?

Our challenge to you

Changing opinions isn’t easy. But engaging people in conversation is a good starting point.

That’s why we’re challenging you to change three people’s minds about poverty. Talk to your neighbour, your family, your best friend or even that person you bump into on the street. Ask them whether they think poverty is increasing or decreasing around the world.

Did they guess correctly? If not, set the record straight, and et them know that poverty is decreasing globally.

With your help, we can change attitudes – a first step toward changing the world.

Because poverty isn’t permanent.

UNDP Around the world