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Economic downturn did not harm efforts at reducing extreme poverty in developing world

WASHINGTON - A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty - and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists’ expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world.

The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the recession seems not to have thrown that trend off course, according to preliminary data from 2010.

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The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half, five years before its 2015 deadline.

“This is very good news,’’ said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the former director of the Millennium Development Goals project. “There has been broad-based progress in fighting poverty, and accelerating progress. There’s a lot to be happy about.’’

The report indicates that despite the world’s entering a recession in 2009, poverty did not increase in developing nations.

That is contrary to the World Bank’s own expectations. In a year-end 2008 report, the development institution warned: “Unemployment is on the rise in industrial countries and poverty is set to increase across low- and middle-income countries, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world’s most vulnerable.’’

But that did not happen. Preliminary surveys for 2010 show that the proportion of people in the developing world living in extreme poverty fell.

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