World’s Poorest, Living on $1, Get Hypothetical Help in Survey

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How many people in the world live on less than $1 a day?

When U.S. workers in an online survey answered that question, 23 percent correctly said 1 billion people or more.

The survey, sponsored by the nonprofit group Millennium Promise, gathered information from 6,823 employees at U.S. companies and released the results today. Millennium Promise was founded by the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs to help ease extreme poverty in African villages.

Sixty percent of the survey’s respondents named Africa as the continent most in need of corporate philanthropy, twice the number who picked North America. Seventy-two percent said they would want their employer to help people who live in extreme poverty if the company has “the resources to help.’’

“The survey is wonderful news,’’ Sachs, a professor of international affairs at Columbia University in New York, said in a statement. “American workers believe it’s important for their companies to contribute to solving global problems, especially in Africa.’’

Yet 27 percent of those surveyed said their companies shouldn’t devote resources to fighting poverty around the globe. The most common argument, cited by 52 percent of those dissenters, was that U.S. companies should focus their philanthropy on alleviating problems in America.

UN Goals

Sachs created Millennium Promise in 2004 to support the United Nations in its effort to achieve eight anti-poverty “Millennium Development Goals’’ in Africa by 2015. Sachs was director of the UN project from 2002 to 2006 and is now a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Sachs’s group has a goal of ending extreme poverty worldwide by 2025, while the UN Millennium Development project seeks to cut in half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, a common measure of extreme poverty, by 2015.

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Source: Bloomberg (link opens in a new window)