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Expand chart
Data: The World Bank and World Poverty Clock. Note: 1999-2015 World Bank figures are incomplete in South Asia. 2016-2019 figures are World Poverty Clock projections. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The 2010s may be remembered as the decade when the global 1% accumulated unfathomable wealth, but it was also perhaps the best decade ever for the world’s poorest people.

The big picture: The rate of extreme poverty around the world was cut in half over the past decade (15.7% in 2010 to 7.7% now), and all but eradicated in China.

A tipping point was reached in 2018, according to a Brookings analysis, with more than half the world in the middle class or above for the first time in history.

  • Along with that came massive declines in mortality rates for women and infants, both of which have been halved since 1990.
  • Meanwhile, primary education has become near-universal in nearly all of the world, including for girls. The global youth literacy rate was up to 91% as of 2016, though sub-Saharan Africa (75%) lags behind.
  • The average income of the world’s bottom 50% of earners nearly doubled between 1980 and 2016, according to Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, MIT professors and the 2019 Nobel laureates in economics.

The other side: There was only one group that fared better over that time, Banerjee and Duflo write in Foreign Affairs: the global 1%. “The rich in already rich countries plus an increasing number of superrich in the developing world… captured an astounding 27% of global growth.”

An examination of Forbes’ billionaire lists over the past decade tells much of the story:

  • In 2009, the world had 793 billionaires with a combined wealth of $2.4 trillion. There were 98 members of a more exclusive club: $5 billion or more.
  • As of 2019, the world had 2,153 billionaires with a total net worth of $8.7 trillion. Membership of the $5 billion club quadrupled to 424, and 166 people now have at least $10 billion.
  • To qualify as one of the world’s 100 richest people, you’d now need not $4.9 billion, as was the case a decade ago, but $14.4 billion.

The global picture: There were 130 billionaires in Asia a decade ago. Now there are 729, and 324 just in mainland China.

  • Billionaires weren’t the only ones to benefit. Generally speaking, the 2010s were a decade in which the world’s rich got much richer.

As the global 1% captured more and more of the pie, Banerjee and Duflo write, “The 49% of people below them, which includes almost everybody in the United States and Europe, lost out, and their incomes stagnated.”

  • There’s also cause for concern in China and India, which have been the primary drivers of global poverty reduction but are now experiencing slower growth.

The bottom line: Extreme poverty has fallen but not been eliminated, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where poverty rates are stubbornly high and fast-growing populations mean more people now live in poverty than a decade ago.

  • A rising economic tide has lifted some to unprecedented heights, but millions around the world remain underwater.

Go deeper

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Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

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Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

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President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.