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Gap between rich and poor is still growing, study finds

Nearly 75 per cent of the world's poor live in middle-income countries where their fellow citizens' wealth is growing, a study shows.

Southern Asia is home to half, or 827 million, of the most impoverished people, while sub-Saharan Africa has 473 million, according to an index based on deprivations in health, education, living standards and child mortality.

Middle-income countries are also home to twice as many of the poorest poor as low-income countries.

The Oxford University study, released today, found "startlingly wide" disparities within some nations. For example, the north-eastern region of Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, has a higher poverty rate than the poorest region of Liberia – a low-income country recovering from civil war.

The study analysed data from 109 countries with a combined population of 5.3 billion – 72 per cent of the planet's total.