Travel enough and you’ll see poverty in all shapes and forms. It doesn’t just exist on some urban street corner or in every country in Africa.
What do you think about poverty in the world, foreign aid, and the global population?
Do you believe that poor countries will always be poor?
Do you think that your country spends too much money on foreign aid?
Is the world becoming overpopulated?
Rewind Ten Years
Ask me these questions back then while I was studying economic development and I would’ve told you that:
- There will always be poor countries relative to rich ones. The more relevant term is “poverty’. Re-frame the question and ask, “Will poverty always exist?” and I’d answer “yes” (although it doesn’t have to).
- The United States doesn’t spend enough on foreign aid and aid is disproportionately allocated to not necessarily who needs it most but where we have a vested economic or political interest. And,
- Some areas of the world are more dense with people than others but eventually there will be a course correction with populations as has always been the case with civilization.
The Gates Foundation Letter
Bill and Melinda Gates published their annual Gates Foundation Letter early last month addressing what they believe are three myths that block progress for the poor. Those three myths are close to the questions that I asked:
Myth One: “Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.”
Myth Two: “Foreign aid is a big waste.”
Myth Three: “Saving lives leads to overpopulation.”
The annual letter addresses these myths comprehensively, dispelling them with numbers and figures. I won’t regurgitate what the report says, you should take a browse at it for yourself and read the 3 myths. I would add that globalization, once veered as the evil enemy for developing nations, has served many of them well. Without the injection of money into small scale economies, or micro loans, or sharing of information, or cultivation of human capital, or increased access to travel, we’d be having a different conversation.
Bill Gates’ Prediction
Bill Gates predicts that by 2035, “there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” I want to believe his prediction with all my heart. However, I’m a little skeptical. I think we need 10 more Bills and Melindas to get it done. There may be less “poor” countries by 2035 but I don’t see income disparities shrinking.
There’s no doubt that our constantly changing digital world provides more people with greater access to information and opportunity. Perhaps the increase in global travel will also play its part.
What’s your outlook on poverty in the world? How do you think it will shift?