2035

crack walkerHere’s my excerpt of speculation about the year 2035. It’s based on trends people see who’re trying to alleviate the suffering among the world’s poor:

Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to debunk three pervasive myths about helping the poorest people:

“Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.”
“Foreign aid is a big waste.”
“Saving lives leads to overpopulation.”

These myths pop up at international conferences and social gatherings, reflecting a dim view of the future. It says the world isn’t improving but staying poor and sick, and getting overcrowded.

But the Gates make a case for the opposite – the world is getting better, and in two decades it’ll be better still, speculating that by 2035 there’ll be almost no poor countries in the world.

Most all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors. And all countries can benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments.

But they think not all low-income countries will make it to middle-income status by 2035. A few countries will be held back by war, politics, or geography (landlocked nations in central Africa). And wealth inequality will still be a problem: There will be poor people in every region.

But most people will live in countries that are self-sufficient. Every nation in South America, Asia, and Central America (except maybe Haiti), and most in coastal Africa, will have joined the ranks of today’s middle- income nations. More than 70 percent of countries will have a higher per-person income than China does today. Nearly 90 percent will have a higher income than India does today.

It’ll be a remarkable achievement. Sixty years ago most countries in the world were poor. In the next two decades, desperately poor countries will become the exception rather than the rule. Billions of people will have been lifted out of extreme poverty. The idea that this will happen during our lifetime is simply amazing.