A new system implemented by the World Bank to measure the number of people who live below the poverty line has meant that in Brazil the number has risen from 8.9 million to 45.5 million, which is almost a third of the population.

A woman walks inside a favela adjacent to Uniao de Vila Nova, recently converted in the framework of a favela upgrading project by the Sao Paulo state housing agency CDHU, in eastern Sao Paulo, Brazil. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The WB has added to its traditional measurement of the poverty line, (US$ 1.90 per day per capita) other indicators tailored to the reality of each country.

A new line has been set at US$ 3.20, which represents the average poverty line for low income countries. Another line has been set at US$ 5.50 per day, which corresponds to the average poverty line for higher middle-income countries, which includes Brazil.

“Being poor in Malawi or Madagascar is different than being poor in Chile, Brazil or Poland”, said Francisco Ferreira, an economist from the World Bank. In the case of countries like Brazil, the number of people who live below the line of US$ 1.90 is relatively small.

“Very few people live on US$ 1.90 per day in Brazil, thank God. But anyone who lives on US$ 2.00 is still poor by Brazilian standards and by the standards of other higher middle-income countries”, he said.

However the scale of US$ 1.90 will continue to be used as the primary measure by the bank as a benchmark for the eradication of extreme poverty in the world by 2030.

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