Bill and Melinda Gates attempted to challenge the fact that the world is better off now than it has ever been before. The couple debunked three common myths in development economics in their foundation’s just-released annual letter . One of them is that “poor countries are doomed to stay poor”. This myth involves a dim view of the future, suggesting that the world isn’t improving but staying poor and sick and getting overcrowded.
As far as poor countries are concerned, Bill Gates is particularly optimistic underlining that “by 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments”.
A country is deemed poor when its gross national income per capita is $1,035 or less while a lower-middle income country has a GNI between $1,036 - $4,085.
Gates highlight that only a few countries will not make it to prosper as they will be held back by war, political realities (such as North Korea) or geography (such as landlocked states in central Africa). But every country in South America, Asia and Central America (except perhaps Haiti) and most in coastal Africa will have become middle-income nations. More than 70% of countries will have a higher per-person income than China does today.
The Number of Working Poor Drops
The International Labour Organisation’s Global Employment Trends report shows that the number of working poor continues to decline globally, albeit at a slower rate than in previous decades. In 2013, an estimated 375 million workers – or 11.9% of the world's workforce– lived on less than $1.25 (76p) a day, while 839 million – 26.7% – had to cope with $2 a day or less. That compares with much higher numbers in the early 2000s, of 600 million and more than 1.1 billion, respectively.
ILO argued that emerging economies would continue to enjoy the lowest combined unemployment rate this year. It forecasts a jobless rate of 5.1% for the emerging economy members of the G20 group of nations, compared with 8.4% for the advanced economy members.
Truth is that the world is better off now than it has ever been before. Much of the reason why so many people seem to think things are getting worse is that people are in the grip of deeply damaging myths about global poverty and development.