Economic growth and Development – Does one lead automatically to the other?

30/05/2013 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

One of the great untold stories is that the world has witnessed greater absolute improvements in health, wealth, and education in the past decade than in any comparable period in human history.

It may not look like that, as too often media and NGO reports highlight the many problems in developing countries, but the overall story of “global development” is a positive one. See for instance this presentation by the inimitable Hans Rosling, and his stats on child mortality rates: Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? | Video on TED.com .

In 2010, the United Nations took stock of progress towards the achievement of universally agreed goals ‘en route’ to the elimination of extreme poverty. A summary of the score cards can be found here (and if you want more details, have a look at some of these resources: Aid Works). This blog post neatly summarises what we have learned since 2000 about what works, and what doesn’t, in the fight against poverty, deprivation and marginalisation: Basing the Post-2015 Development Framework on Programmes That Work.

In short, economic growth in India and China (and in many African countries) has changed the numbers game. But economic growth does not automatically lead to ‘development’, and while overall poverty levels may have fallen, persistent poverty and poverty being transferred across generations, is not decreasing. More and more, the need for greater emphasis on unequal distribution, and unequal power relations is coming to the fore in the discussions on how to end extreme poverty.

“Development” cannot be delivered from the outside, and “Poverty” is not merely a lack of money, food or shelter. To be poor is also to lack control over one’s life and resources, and “poverty” is not simply a matter of scarcity, but a matter of distribution of, and access to, resources. And “Development” is about reversing poverty and inequality, increasing the choices and opportunities available to poor people, and protecting their human rights.

Entry filed under: MDGs. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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