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Number of People Living in Poverty

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Wright, Kelly. Homeless in America: How Could it Happen Here? Texas: Gale Group Thomson 2002. "The CPS reported that in 1999, 32.3 million people lived below the official government poverty level, a poverty rate of 11.8%, down from the 12.7% poverty rate in 1998. (Poverty 1999, US Census Bureaus, current population survey, March 1940-2000)."
  Lowest Highest
Number in Poverty 23 million 40 million
Poverty Rate 22.5% 11%
32.3 million
Egendorf, Laura K. "Increasing Poverty." Poverty, Opposing Viewpoints. 1999. "IIn terms of absolute numbers, there were nearly 37 million people in poverty in the US in 1992, slightly more than in 1960." 37 million
Sachs, Jeffrey D. "The End of Poverty."Time Magazine. March 14, 2005: 42-52. "The total number of people living in extreme poverty, World Bank estimates, is 1.1 billion, down from 1.5 billion." 1.1 billion
Mazre, David. Social Security and Welfare Services. Britannica Book of the Year 1982, 1982. 620. "In 1980, 29.3 million Americans, or 13% of the population, lived below the poverty level ($8,414 for a non-farm family of 4). In 1979 the figure was 26.1 million, or 11.7%." 29.3 million
Bender, David L. "Poverty is Underestimated." Poverty, Opposing Viewpoints. 1994. "In September 1992, the Census Bureau reported that in 1991, nearly 36 million Americans were living in poverty." 36 million

Source: Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century

Poverty is generally defined as people who cannot satisfy their basic needs because of economic strains. It inevitably occurs in the United States, as well as in all the countries in the world. Poverty is due to many factors that can include level of income, employment, distribution of resources in a country, amount of welfare, and living conditions. There is debate on whom to call "poor". However, most studies take the poverty line (the cutoff line to consider a person to be poor) as 50 percent of the median income of the nation of study.

In general, there are three degrees of poverty: absolute (extreme), moderate, and relative. Absolute poverty is known as "the poverty that kills," where these people get by with $1 a day, or less. There are approximately 1.1 billion people out of 6 billion in the world who live in absolute poverty according to the World Bank. In the United States, approximately 32 million people live in poverty, about 30% of the world number. Charts seem to show that the poverty rate in the country has decreased steadily from 1993 to 1999.

In 2001, 25 million people of the Middle East lived with less that one dollar a day. Together, Eastern Europe and Central Asia had about 50 million people living in this condition in 2001. East Asia had a more staggering number of 300 million people living in extreme poverty and South Asia tops it with 425 million. Latin America and the Caribbean had a total of 100 million people in poverty while Sub-Saharan Africa had 325 million of its people in poverty.

Poverty can lead to homelessness and plenty of hardships. It also leads to death. About 8 million people in the world die of poverty in a year. Governments are trying to develop better welfare programs for their nations' inhabitants. The number of people in poverty can certainly decrease, but it cannot be completely eliminated.

Jennifer Leong -- 2005