(From Davos) Poverty’s Success Story
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The World Economic Forum convening this week in Davos, Switzerland, is organized around the theme of “Shared Norms for the New Reality.” As in past years, the conference will feature plenty of debate about how to solve global challenges in a multipolar, interdependent world. This “new reality,” however, is getting a little old.
Politicians, commentators and pundits have long opined – in Davos and elsewhere – about the arrival of emerging markets and the shift of economic power away from the West. Indeed, this theme is arguably the leading narrative in geopolitics and economics. The rise of the developing world quite rightly shapes our understanding of investment opportunities, the balance of military power, global governance and more.
Yet on one issue our understanding remains impervious to this new reality: the state of global poverty. Our sense of this topic remains firmly rooted in the year 2005 – the last year for which the World Bank has produced data on the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day. Thus we are routinely told that “today,” 1.37 billion people around the world are poor, including 456 million in India and 208 million in China, but such figures are six years out of date.