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Norberg on extreme poverty

03/01/2017
Spiked Review’s theme for this month is “The Future” and Johan Norberg has a very good article chronicling the decline of extreme poverty entitled “And the Poor Shall Rise”. Here’s a slice comparing the rise of China and India to the West’s development in the 1800s :
When the Western world began to industrialise in the early 1800s, its population consisted of approximately 200million people and it took 50 years to double their average income. China and India alone have done the same thing with 10 times more people, five times faster.
Last year (yes it really is now 2017) I named Norberg’s Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future my pick for book of the year. I think he should be essential reading for anyone interested in public policy and politics.
In Progress, Norberg recounts via a compelling narrative the most important and underappreciated story of our time: across a range of indicators (falling child mortality, improved literacy, vaccination to protect against disease, and more) economic growth is delivering a far higher quality of life to many more people all over the globe. Norberg provides a much needed factual story using a range of statistical measures of progress amidst a growing political climate of cynical pessimism.
More money, most essentially at lower levels of income, gives people more choices and helps improve quality of life. While “inequality”, an often porous and not well understood term, is cited as a major political problem in developed democracies, third world poverty is more immediately pressing and it is actually in retreat. Extreme poverty, now marked by the World Bank at $1.90 per day, has declined markedly. It has fallen from 37 percent of the global population in 1990 to just ten percent in 2015.
That’s amazing! It is actually possible that grinding miserable extreme poverty could be eradicated in my lifetime (I am 30 years old). As the above quote about China and India’s rise note what is so remarkable about global economic development is that it is happening at such a fast pace compared to earlier development paths. There are political trends which threaten this path to progress to be sure and there is still far to come but it’s important to recognise the staggering and very real progress humanity has seen in a very short period of time.
Read Norberg’s whole article and then read Progress.
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