Extensive research has lead to a solid understanding of the causes of poverty in China. Estimating the number of people in poverty in China is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall, though. When looking for China poverty statistics, we found it confusing to find a consensus. It requires some sort of standards for the cost of living (widely varies) and accurate census data (often outdated). With the world economies shifting from month-to-month, poverty stats are a moving target.
To further complicate things, the World Bank has recently adjusted the international poverty line up to $1.90 a day from $1.25 a day. Experts argue the change has little net effect on the poverty levels, but the headcounts have changed. That means poverty stats from 2015 have to be revised even though they’re based on the same 2010 census data.
We realized that it’s impossible to have a complete count, so we gathered some China poverty statistics from a variety of sources. We hope it helps put context and urgency to the Poverty Crisis in rural China. After all, the raw numbers don’t matter as much as making a real change for the families in need.
Number of People in Poverty in China
- 400,000,000 – Vulnerability-adjusted poverty line for China. This an estimate from Wei Shangjin, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank. He argues the World Bank poverty line (below) is too low. He uses additional elements like vulnerability to illness, natural disasters, and other shocks to calculate a more realistic poverty headcount.
- 150,600,000 – Less than $3.10 a day. This is the World Bank’s new upper international poverty line.
- 82,000,000 – Less than $1 a day. An unnamed senior official in the Chinese government estimated the number or rural poor according to a 2014 WSJ.com article More Than 82 Million Chinese Live on Less Than $1 a Day.
- 25,200,000 – Less than $1.90 a day. This count is the World Bank’s new lower poverty line for Extreme Poverty.
You can see the Poverty Crisis is real in China regardless of how you measure poverty. There’s no doubt China is making incredible strides in poverty reduction, but there is still more work to be done. The work is more work than the Chinese government can do alone.
Rural China needs your help. You can change the world.