Magazine Feature / People

Professor’s new book rich in data on poverty

One billion human beings live on less than $1 a day.

Not surprisingly, social scientists say that categorizes them as officially living in what’s called extreme poverty.

But there’s good news in a new book, Patterns of Potential Human Progress: Reducing Global Poverty, by Barry Hughes, a professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

In the book, Hughes cites headway in the fight to shrink poverty.

“My feeling is cautious optimism,” says Hughes, who’s also the director of DU’s Pardee Center for International Futures, the organization that helped publish the book. “As a percentage of the global populations, poverty is coming down. We’re beginning to see gaps narrow around the world. We’re seeing gains in education and in health, and life expectancy — in spite of AIDS — is growing. At the monetary level it’s not as easy to see, but it is getting better.”

And he adds that the number of people living in poverty has peaked and “the number is poised to come down if the economy improves.”

The ammunition in the war on poverty, Hughes says, is “not a magic silver bullet,” but many efforts.

“There are large numbers of actions helping universally, not just education or better health or stronger governance by themselves,” he says. “Each of those help, but a broad effort is sustaining the progress.”

Hughes also praises grass root movements and says that’s where individuals can help. “Millions of people are making a huge difference through nongovernmental organizations and foundations.”

Marc Sydnor (MA ’05), the book’s production manager, says he believes the volume “raises the bar in analyzing global poverty.”

“The book moves the agenda into the future by forecasting the potential outcomes of policy initiatives to achieve global poverty reduction,” Sydnor says.

The 334-page book, published in the United States by Paradigm and by Oxford in India, can be downloaded free at and ordered online at

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