Good news: 28 countries escape poverty trap

Progress is like a river

The Guardian reports on new data indicating we are making progress against poverty:

Remember the poverty trap? Countries stuck in destitution because of weak institutions put in place by colonial overlords, or becausse of climates that foster disease, or geographies that limit access to global markets, or simply by the fact that poverty is overwhelmingly self-perpetuating. Apparently the trap can be escaped.

Zambia and Ghana are specifically celebrated in the article as having risen rapidly from “low-income” toward “middle-income” status, according to new World Bank country classifications.

Low-income means countries in which people make less than $1,005 per year (why that extra $5?). Lower middle-income countries where people make between $1,006 and $3,975 per year and upper middle-income countries are those where people make $3,976 and $12,275 annually.

So what’s the behind this rapid progress? The authors provide three key perspectives:

1. Foreign aid, public and private investments to poor countries actually work.

2. The World Bank country criteria may not be measuring poverty accurately since many of those people living in poverty live in middle-income countries.

3. Fighting poverty is becoming increasingly a matter of domestic politics, a recognition of and public intolerance for inequity.



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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.