More than a year into the pandemic, there is still much we don’t know concerning its impact on global poverty. Though high-frequency phone surveys have helped gain a broad understanding of the economic consequences of the pandemic, the collection of detailed, household surveys needed to understand its impact on poverty has largely been put on hold. While awaiting household surveys, we continue our previous approach of trying to understand the poverty consequences of the pandemic by extrapolating the income and consumption from past household surveys using national accounts growth forecasts. Simple as it is, this method generally outperforms more complicated methods in nowcasting poverty.
Data are everywhere. But what is the data revolution doing for the 700 million people who live in extreme poverty? When data are turned into valuable information, they have the potential to improve lives, transform economies, and help end poverty. Now more than ever, the world is facing new demands for data as our principal weapon in the war against COVID-19. The latest edition of the World Development Report from the World Bank provides a blueprint on how to harness the power of data for development, to ensure no one is left behind.
As the new year brings some hope for the fight against COVID-19, we are looking back and taking stock of the effect of the pandemic on poverty in 2020. In October 2020, using the June vintage of growth forecasts from the Global Economic Prospects, we estimated that between 88 and 115 million people around the globe would be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020. Using the January 2021 forecasts from GEP, we now expect the COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 to rise to between 119 and 124 million. This range of estimates is in line with other estimates based on alternative recent growth forecasts.
A message from World Bank Group President Mr. Malpass
As the year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our work in 2020 and challenges ahead.
While some countries have begun a recovery from COVID-19, many continue to suffer lasting health and economic risks. The World Bank Group is working hard to address the unequal toll of the global pandemic. Since April, we have been providing support on an unprecedented scale, focusing first on the health emergency, as well as on the broader recovery goals and vaccination needs.