According to the World Bank, almost one-half of the world’s 6.5 billion inhabitants live on the equivalent of less than two dollars a day, and about one-fourth of the world live on the equivalent of less than $1.25 a day (Chen and Ravallion, 2008).Meanwhile, people in the 20-richest countries on average earn 39 times more than people in the poorest 20 (Milanovi, 2007).
At the same time, the extent of poverty has declined significantly. For example, the World Bank estimates that from 1981-2005 the percentage of people living on less than $1 per day was halved. The amount decreased from 52 percent to 26 percent in this period (Chen & Ravallion, 2008).
These contrasts highlight both the problem and the progress of what is known in the international community as “development.” Large numbers of the world’s inhabitants are mired in poverty, especially in Africa, while inhabitants of the world’s richest countries live in both relative and absolute luxury. But people in poor countries are getting wealthier over time—a process linked to globalization because poorer countries can raise their standards of living by integrating with rich countries.
The term “development” in international parlance therefore encompasses the need and the means by which to provide better lives for people in poor countries. It includes not only economic growth, although that is crucial, but also human development—providing for health, nutrition, education, and a clean environment.
The following Issue in Depth is designed to help you:
- understand why some countries are developed and other are not;
- describe the problems development is designed to solve;
- familiarize yourself with the institutions that are active in development;
- explain the main strategies for fostering development;
- and, report on the facts and figures of the Millennium Development Goals, the international community’s new effort to promote development.
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