Global MPI 2020

The global MPI 2020 compares acute multidimensional poverty for 107 countries in developing regions. These countries are home to 5.9 billion people, three quarters of the world’s population. Of these people, 1.3 billion people (22%) are identified by the global MPI as multidimensionally poor.

Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end poverty in all its forms and dimensions. The global MPI 2020 offers a tool to make progress towards this goal.

Produced in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report Office (UNDP HDRO), the global MPI 2020 provides a detailed image of who is poor and how they are poor. It offers both a global headline and a fine-grained analysis covering 1,279 subnational regions, and important groups such as children, and people living in urban or rural areas, together with the indicator deprivations of each group.

This year – ten years after the launch of the global MPI – we present the first comprehensive study of harmonised trends in MPI and related statistics for 80 countries for which data is available. Trend data are likewise disaggregated by groups.

Report and key findings

The joint OPHI and UNDP global MPI report, Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2020 – Charting Pathways out of Multidimensional Poverty: Achieving the SDGs, presents the key findings of the global MPI 2020 and the first comprehensive study of harmonized MPI trends, also known as Changes over Time, indicating that 65 out of 75 countries reduced MPI significantly.

It explores whether before the pandemic countries were on or off track to halve multidimensional poverty by 2030 – a challenge set by SDG 1 – and finds 47 countries were on track. In the context of the current crisis, the report simulates possible impacts of COVID-19 on multidimensional poverty, finding that, if unaddressed, it could set progress back by up to a decade.

Finally, linkages between the global MPI and other SDG indicators related to climate, work, immunization, higher education, and urban/rural areas bring together multiple perspectives on pressing issues in development.

Our analysis covers the significant progress in poverty reduction made by some countries in the past twenty years, but it is clear that decisive action is needed more than ever to sustain progress and ensure no one is left behind. 

Key findings include:

  • Across 107 developing countries and 5.9 billion people, 1.3 billion people—22 percent—live in multidimensional poverty.
  • Children show higher rates of multidimensional poverty: half of multidimensionally poor people (644 million) are children under the age of 18. One in three children is poor compared with one in six adults.
  • About 84 percent of multidimensionally poor people live in Sub-Saharan Africa (558 million) and South Asia (530 million). Two-thirds of multidimensionally poor people live in middle-income countries.
  • 71 percent of the 5.9 billion people covered experience at least one deprivation; however, the average number of deprivations they experience is five.
  • 107 million multidimensionally poor people are age 60 or older—a particularly importantly figure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 65 countries reduced their Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) value significantly in absolute terms. Those countries are home to 96 percent of the population of the 75 countries studied for poverty trends.
  • The countries with the fastest reduction in MPI value in absolute terms were Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Liberia, followed by Timor-Leste, Guinea and Rwanda. The fastest, Sierra Leone (2013–2017), did so during the Ebola epidemic. North Macedonia had the fastest relative poverty reduction, followed by China, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. Each of these countries cut its original MPI value by at least 12 percent a year.
  • Four countries halved their MPI value. India (2005/2006–2015/2016) did so nationally and among children and had the biggest reduction in the number of multidimensionally poor people (over 270 million).
  • In nearly a third of the countries studied, either there was no reduction in multidimensional poverty for children, or the MPI value fell more slowly for children than for adults.
  • Pre-COVID-19, 47 countries were on track to halve poverty between 2015 and 2030, if reported trends continued. But 18 countries, including some of the poorest, were off track.
  • Simulations based on anticipated impacts of the pandemic on just two indicators of the global MPI – nutrition and school attendance – suggest that, if unaddressed, the crisis might erase up to a decade’s worth of gains.
  • There is a negative, moderate but statistically significant correlation between the incidence of multidimensional poverty and the coverage of three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) vaccine.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa 71.9 percent of people in rural areas (466 million people) are multidimensionally poor compared with 25.2 percent (92 million people) in urban areas.
  • Environmental deprivations are most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa: at least 53.9 percent of the population (547 million people) is multidimensionally poor and faces at least one environmental deprivation. Environmental deprivations are also high in South Asia: at least 26.8 percent of the population (486 million people) is multidimensionally poor and lacks access to one of the three environment indicators.

Further resources

Global MPI 2020

Changes over Time 2020