Why Are We Witnessing the Biggest Setback to Global Poverty Reduction in Decades?
Play • 26 min

COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and other crises have dealt the biggest setback to global poverty reduction in decades. 2020 alone saw the largest one-year increase in extreme poverty since global monitoring began. In this episode of The Development Podcast, we comb through the recent Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report (PSPR) to understand what’s happening, where and why.  

Ruth Hill, a lead economist at the World Bank discusses the actions governments can take to help correct course. We also get a snapshot of just how hard the last few years have been for many people, such as Sonia Cifuentes in Bogota, Colombia, and how cash transfers helped her when she needed support to cover the basics for herself and her children. Listen now!

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Featured Voices

  • Ruth Hill, Lead Economist, Global Unit of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, World Bank. "There's evidence that households which receive cash transfers are more likely to have their kids in school. And that has a long run impact on household welfare."
  • Sonia Cifuentes, Colombian citizen benefited from a cash transfer program: "If I hadn't had access to those transfers, I would've had to have found someone to give me a donation because I had to feed my children."


[00:00] Welcome and introduction of the topic

[01:37] Understanding the data behind the Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report

[07:28] Visions from Bogota, Colombia: Vulnerability and cash transfer programs

[11:10] The meaning behind poverty

[12:42] 2020 saw the biggest setback to global poverty in decades

[14:36] Measuring poverty: Methodology and research

[15:33] Progress made in ending poverty over the last few decades

[17:05] The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty reduction efforts

[19:40] Increase in poverty in different regions of the world

[20:35] Public policies to counter poverty trends

[21:37] Subsidies and cash transfer programs

[25:37] Closing and thanks for tuning in!


This international development podcast brings together the data, research—and solutions—that can pave the way to a sustainable future. Through conversations focused on revealing the latest data, the best research, and cutting-edge solutions, let us introduce you to the folks working to make the world a better place. Listen and subscribe for free on your favorite platform. And rate our show! ;)

Tell us what you think of our podcast here >>>. We would love to hear from you! 


The World Bank is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for low-income countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development.

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