I took this graphic from a recent Scientific American article. It indicates the percent of various populations living on less than $1 per day. While the hurdle is set very low the improvements in regions outside Sub-Saharan Africa (a notable exception) are remarkable.
The article, by Pranab Bardhan, questions the extent to which globalisation – mainly interpreted as trade liberalisation – rather than events such as the ‘green revolution’, social investments, anti-poverty programs – have brought gains. Bhardhan is generally a supporter of globalisation but emphasises that this does not proclude a role for active public policy.
Bardhan has a sensible general conclusion:
Simplistic antiglobalization slogans or sermons on the unqualified benefits of free trade do not serve the cause of alleviating world poverty. An appreciation of the complexity of the issues and an active interweaving of domestic and international policies would be decidedly more fruitful.