Posted by: Andrea Mullins | 7 July, 2009

The Richest One-Fifth of the World

On the eve of World Population Day, July 11, the state of the world is worth considering.  While the information below is indeed sobering, Jesus is the answer for the world’s peoples, regardless of wealth, culture, tradition, or origin.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35–51 NASB).


“No one knows yet what the full scale of this global economic crisis will look like. We do know that women and children in developing countries will bear the brunt of the impact. What started as a financial crisis in rich countries is now deepening into a global economic crisis that is hitting developing countries hard. It is already affecting progress toward reducing poverty.”

Although poverty has been dramatically reduced in many parts of the world, a quarter of the world’s people remain in severe poverty.  Half the world’s people live on less than $2 a day.   Over one billion people live on less than $1 per day.  The richest 20 percent of the world population now receives 150 times the income of the poorest 20 percent.

The richest one-fifth of the world:

• Consume 45 percent of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5 percent.
• Consume 58 percent of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4 percent.
• Have 74 percent of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5 percent.
• Consume 84 percent of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1 percent.
• Own 87 percent of the world’s vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1 percent.

Women and Poverty

With nearly 7 billion people in the world, 49 percent  of whom are female, there is no doubt that women living in poverty will be denied the opportunities that women in the US take for granted.  Women are still the poorest of the world’s poor, representing 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty. When nearly 900 million women have incomes of less than $1 a day, the association between gender inequality and poverty remains a harrowing reality.

Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, and yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property.


Today, there are still 125 million children who never attend school.  Another 150 million children of primary age start school, but drop out before they can read or write.  One in four adults in the developing world—872 million people—is illiterate, and the numbers are growing.  A child in Mozambique can expect to go to school for two to three years while a five-year-old European or North American child can expect to spend 17 years in formal education.

Girls account for two-thirds of the children not in school. In many schools in the developing world, the treatment of girls is tantamount to a system of apartheid.

Debt Crisis

It is estimated that the Third World pays the developed North nine times more in debt repayments than they receive in aid. Africa alone spends four times more on repaying its debts than it spends on health care.

Food & Hunger

826 million people remained undernourished in 1996-98. Hunger continues to plague an estimated 793 million people around the world, including 31 million in the US.  Hunger kills. Every day, 24,000 people die from hunger and other preventable causes.  Nearly 160 million children are malnourished worldwide.


More than 800 million people lack access to basic healthcare, and 1.3 billion lack access to safe drinking water.  Seventeen million people die each year from curable diseases, including diarrhea, malaria and tuberculosis.  Five million of these people die due to water contamination.

We are not alone in this world. We share space with more than 6 billion souls, every one of them loved by God and in need of His love shown in the most basic and practical terms.

If you are ready to consider your response more fully, two excellent resources are Trolls and Truth and Plunge2Poverty by Jimmy Dorrell.

Trolls and Truth Final Hi ResPlunge2Poverty



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