Fewer countries than ever are in the world’s lowest income bracket but rising wealth inequality means that Monaco has about 400 times more cash to spend on each citizen than Malawi does, World Bank data shows.
Related: ‘We can be the first generation that ends poverty’
The percentage of people living in countries defined as “low-income” has tumbled by 80% over the past two decades, according to the data. (The World Bank updates its income thresholds annually, with an adjustment for inflation.) In 1994, there were 3.1 billion people living in 64 low-income nations, but in 2014 there were 613 million people in 31 of the world’s poorest countries.
Sustained economic growth over the past year has catapulted Bangladesh, Burma, Kenya and Tajikistan out of low-income status, which is defined as countries with a gross national income per capita (GNI) of $1,045 or less.
These countries have become middle-income economies, which are those with an GNI per capita of between $1,046 and $12,736. High-income economies are those that yield more than $12,736 GNI per capita a year.
Nearly every low-income country is now in sub-Saharan Africa, with just Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Nepal ranking in the poorest category from outside Africa.