Wednesday, April 14, 2004

World Poverty

The discussion of the degree of progress against world poverty in The Economist continues. For those who do not specialize in this field, the presentations have been enlightening. In this week's issue, the World Bank's Martin Ravallion replies to the coverage that the magazine ran on March 13. The two "sides" of the discussion, using different measures, do not disagree that world poverty is falling. They do highlight different methods of measuring and the degree of improvement. Ravallion points out that most of the world's progress is due to improvements in China.

This is no small thing. There could not be a more auspicious demonstration effect. India's progress is probably on China's heels and will only enlarge the demonstration effect. For all of the bad news about the world, this is great stuff.

The news will one day reach the overpopulation pessimists. If so, they may have to go the next step and realize that poverty comes from poor policies. The point about the power of receding statism could not be made more spectacularly than via the example of the world's two most populous countries.