Poverty is an important determinant of ill health, mortality and suffering across the globe. This commentary asks what we can learn about poverty by looking at the way rich countries respond to the needs of vulnerable populations both within their own societies and those of low-income countries. Taking advantage of recent efforts to redefine child poverty in a way that is consistent with the World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health, three sets of data are reviewed: levels of child well-being within 23 Organization of Economic Community Development countries; the amount of official development assistance these countries disburse to poor countries; and, government social transfers targeted at families as a percentage of GDP. Analysis shows that countries in Northern Europe tend to have lower levels of child poverty, and are the most generous with social transfers and providing development assistance to poor countries; in contrast, the non-European countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States, and generally, the G7 countries, are the least generous towards the vulnerable at home and abroad and tend to have the highest levels of child poverty. The findings suggest that nations' responses tend to be ideologically based rather than evidence or needs based and that poverty is neither inevitable nor intractable.