What exactly does it mean to live on a dollar a day? Here's a fascinating paper (pdf) that tells us, by drawing on evidence from 13 countries. Some highlights:
1. "The average person living at under $1 a day does not seem to put every available penny into buying more calories...Food typically represents from 56 to 78% [of household spending]."
Despite this, hunger is common. Among the extremely poor in Udaipur, only 57% said their household had enough to eat in the previous year, and 72% report at least one symptom of disease.
2. "The poor generally do not compain about their health - but then they do not complain about life in general. While the poor certainly feel poor, their levels of self-reported happiness or health are not particularly low."
3. Spending on festivals - religious ceremonies, funerals and weddings - is high. In Udaipur, median spending on these by people living on $1 a day was 10% of income.
4. In several countries, the extremely poor spend about 5% of income on alcohol and tobacco.
5. In the Ivory Coast, 14% of people on $1 a day have a TV - and 45% of those on $2 a day have one.
6. Many of the extremely poor get income from more than one source. Cultivating their own land is not always the main source of income.
7. Participation in microfinance is not as high as you'd think. The poor seem unable to reap economies of scale, therefore.