Poverty, The Global Picture

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Miss our posts? Ruurbanpoor took a holiday and researched poverty in urban centers around the world which we’ll be sharing in future blog posts. Knowing the damaging impact in America when poverty increased to 15% of the population it was disturbing to see the even greater numbers of poor in other countries around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa almost 50% of the population are poor–very poor. In South America the average is 33% with countries like Paraguay significantly exceeding that number. Mexico and Central America’s poor average 47% of the population.

With urbanization trending up all around the world in part because of worsening conditions in the countrysides and increasing mechanization which creates less work in agriculturally based economies, slum populations have the potential to rise to 2 billion in coming years. Nearly 1 billion live in slums now. 1 billion out of the 7 billion people in our world today!

UN HABITAT reports encouragement in the State of the World’s Cities report 2010-2011, that several million people moved out of slums in the last decade however overall slum populations are increasing. A slum is an area of land in the city that has been settled by people who don’t own the land. The city views the settlements as illegal for that reason and, in most cases, refuses basic city services such as water, sewage facilities, heat, and, of course, education. Slum populations can exceed 1 million people.

Ending Poverty and Hunger is a United Nations Millenial Development Goal. One would hope it will become a goal in the United States as well. Inequality in America is given special attention in the State of the World’s Cities report. Using a measure of equality called the Gini Coefficient* (0 being a society of financial equality and 1 being a totally unequal society)  the report notes that 40 U.S. cities have coefficients greater than .5 and America has more cities measuring high inequality then any other wealthy country.

The Gini Coefficient is most commonly used to determine a society’s economic fairness.  The most unequal cities in America are: Atlanta, New York City, Washington, D.C., Forth Lauderdale and Miami.

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