July 20 (UPI) -- In a global situation made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, three-quarters of the world's population struggled last year to meet basic needs and the vast majority lived in underdeveloped nations, Gallup said in an analysis Monday.
Gallup surveyed at least 1,000 persons over the age of 15 in a total of 142 nations in 2019 for its Basic Needs Vulnerability Index. Monday's was Gallup's second analysis of the index, following the first last month.
Before the coronavirus crisis arrived, the survey found that about 710 million of the world's 750 million "highly vulnerable" resided in developing nations.
While every nation had a high-vulnerability population, researchers said, the vast majority live in those with underdeveloped economies that may not be capable of answering the needs of its people.
Persons classified in the "high" vulnerability category are those who said there were times over the past year when they couldn't afford food or shelter -- or that they struggled to afford them. They also had no family or friends who could help.
Among the highly vulnerable, the segments of the population in both developed and underdeveloped nations were similar. The poor and less educated accounted for higher shares of the population classified as highly vulnerable.
"People in the highly vulnerable group were potentially more at risk in almost every area of their lives before the pandemic, and of utmost importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in regard to their health," Gallup wrote.
Researchers found that family size could be more of a factor in determining vulnerability in underdeveloped nations. There, 13% live in a high vulnerability situation with a family size of one, but the share rises to 18% among those with a family of four or more.
Monday's analysis, however, found that there is a large gap between segments of the population in developed and underdeveloped areas. The poorest people in developed nations like the United States and Britain, for example, are just as highly vulnerable as the richest persons in underdeveloped countries
With the arrival of the coronavirus, the survey said the predicament will only get worse for millions of the world's most vulnerable.
"With economic growth and globalization in jeopardy in the post-COVID-19 world, the shocks from the pandemic will be difficult for everyone -- high-income and low-income alike -- to recover from," Gallup added.
"But for hundreds of millions in the developing world, who were disproportionately highly vulnerable before COVID-19, it may put meeting the sustainable development goals further, if not completely, out of reach."