Poverty Education

In an art­icle where the some­what con­tro­ver­sial philo­sopher Peter Sing­er—author of Fam­ine, Afflu­ence and Mor­al­ity—argues that the teach­ing of the issues sur­round­ing world poverty should not be con­fined to spe­cial­ist courses and should be an edu­ca­tion­al pri­or­ity*, I was shocked by the cla­ri­fic­a­tion of some­thing I’ve oft wondered about the defin­i­tion of poverty:

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as not hav­ing enough income to meet the most basic human needs for adequate food, water, shel­ter, cloth­ing, san­it­a­tion, health care, or edu­ca­tion. One widely quoted stat­ist­ic is that a bil­lion people are liv­ing on less than one U.S. dol­lar per day. That was the World Bank’s poverty line until 2008, when bet­ter data led to a new poverty line of $1.25 per day. As a res­ult, the num­ber of people whose income puts them under the new poverty line is 1.4 bil­lion.

On hear­ing the “$1.25 a day” fig­ure, the thought may cross your mind that in many devel­op­ing coun­tries it is pos­sible to live much more cheaply than in indus­tri­al­ized nations. But the World Bank has already made that adjust­ment in pur­chas­ing power, so those it clas­si­fies as liv­ing in extreme poverty are exist­ing on a daily total con­sump­tion of goods and ser­vices — wheth­er earned or homegrown — com­par­able to the amount of goods and ser­vices that can be bought in the United States for $1.25.

via Arts and Let­ters Daily

The ori­gin­al art­icle has, since post­ing this, gone behind a pay­wall. Sim­il­ar inform­a­tion can be found in Ran­dom House’s excerpt of his Singer’s latest book, The Life You Can Save.