Poor neighborhood children playing Oli Scarff/Getty Images

El bajo costo de poner fin a la pobreza

CHICAGO – La pobreza es la aflicción más cruel de la humanidad. Si usted es extremadamente pobre, ni siquiera puede evitar las enfermedades fácilmente curables que causan una de cada seis muertes humanas. Sus pulmones probablemente estén llenos de contaminación ambiental en el interior de su casa porque, al igual que otros 2.700 millones de personas, usted cocina y se mantiene cálido con combustibles como el estiércol y la madera -con el mismo efecto que tiene fumar dos paquetes de cigarrillos por día-. Una dieta inadecuada hace que sus hijos crezcan con un mal desarrollo físico y que su desarrollo cognitivo también se vea afectado, lo que se traduce en una pérdida de entre 4 y 8 puntos de cociente intelectual en promedio. Esta privación lleva a un estrés y a una desesperación profundos, que tornan difícil hacer algo para mejorar su vida.

Por supuesto, el mundo ha hecho grandes progresos en la lucha contra la pobreza. En 1820, nueve de cada diez personas vivían en condiciones de extrema pobreza. El Banco Mundial estima que, por primera vez en la historia humana, la tasa de pobreza global cayó a cifras de un solo dígito en 2015. Hoy el 9,1% de la población del mundo, o casi 700 millones de personas, vive con menos de 1,90 dólar por día (o el equivalente a un dólar en 1985).

Este umbral de 1,90 dólar para la extrema pobreza es, en realidad, un límite ajustado: no es lo que un turista adinerado podría comprar en un país en desarrollo donde las cosas cuestan poco. Es lo que un norteamericano podría comprar en Estados Unidos por 1,90 dólar. El nivel se ajusta al poder adquisitivo equivalente en la moneda local.

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