Global population in extreme poverty dropped from 95% to 10% since 1820

Global population in extreme poverty dropped from 95% to 10% since 1820

May I present to you……my favourite chart of all time!!

Other than what most people believe, living conditions for most people on this planet are improving. If you look at the chart (of course you will, how can you not! ;)) you can see that this trend has not only been steady, but continuously accelerating, especially since 1970.

Overall, the relative share of people living in extreme poverty declined from a shocking ~95% in 1820 to ‘just’ 10% in 2015. Keep in mind that during this time, global population increased from barely over 1 billion to about 7.4 billion!!

Now, some of you will say ‘but the actual number of people still increased, so all of this is just a numbers game!’. Well…first let me ask you ‘Why would that fact make this trend less important or encouraging?’ The fact that we managed such a large reduction in relative numbers is a HUGE accomplishment considering the population explosion in the early 20th century. Secondly, I’m glad you asked since the absolute numbers have also gone down thanks to a decrease in fertility, which is a direct result of drastically reduced child mortality (💪 Boooyah……chew on that one!!😏).

As you can see in the lovely chart above, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty has been on the decline since 1970. That would mean that most people are 45 years behind the facts with their pessimism😝!). If you look a little further to the right of the X-Axis you can see there was a little bump at the end of the 1980’s which leveled of in 1990 where it reached its peak of 2 billion extremely poor people. Since then that number plummeted to ‘just’ ~700 million, compared to 1 billion in 1820……all that in 25 years! Think about that for a moment and let it sink……. there are now 1.3 billion less people living in extreme poverty than when Beverly Hills 90210 first came out on TV! 😱

Looking at it in a different way, I will borrow a quote from Max Roser, one of the creators of (you should definitely check out their website!).

“On every day in the last 25 years there could have been a newspaper headline saying “The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 137,000 since yesterday”. Unfortunately the slow developments that transform our world entirely never make the news, and this is [the] very reason why we are working on this online publication.”

Check the Source: The charts as well as the quote are from licensed under CC-BY-SA by the author Max Roser.

Featured image courtesy of stark8 via

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