The opinion research organization Ipsos MORI conducted a detailed survey of 26,489 people across 28 countries that gives us an answer.1
Most people think global poverty is rising when in fact the opposite is happening
The first chart shows how the surveyed people answered the following question: “In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has decreased, increased, or remained the same?”
The majority of people – 52% – believe that the share of people in extreme poverty is rising. The opposite is true. In fact, the share of people living in extreme poverty across the world has been declining for two centuries and in the last 20 years this positive development has been faster than ever before (see our entry on global poverty). For the recent era it doesn’t even matter what poverty line you choose, the share of people below any poverty line has fallen (see here).
There are some people who answered the question correctly: every fifth person knows that poverty is falling. But it’s interesting that the share of correct answers differs substantially across countries. The countries I marked with a star are those that were a low-income or lower-middle-income countries a generation ago (in 1990). In these poorer countries more people understand how global poverty has changed. People in richer countries on the other hand – in which the majority of the population escaped extreme poverty some generations ago– have a very wrong perception about what is happening to global poverty.
More here – Our World In Data
PS It is interesting to see that the residents of China are remarkably better informed on what is happening in the world than we are.