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Bad News for the World’s Poorest

The weak state of the global economy conceals an even gloomier story: the worsening plight of the world’s poorest people. Slower growth will make their climb out of poverty even harder, which is why the world must support a range of bold policies to help them.

WASHINGTON, DC – The global economic mood is souring. At their meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, earlier this month, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors warned that economic growth remains weak, with risks still tilted to the downside. Just a few days before that gathering, the World Bank had lowered its 2019 global growth forecast to 2.6% – the lowest rate in three years – and predicted that growth would remain tepid in 2020-2021. 

These headlines conceal an even gloomier story: the worsening plight of the world’s poorest people. With a weaker global economy making their climb out of poverty even harder, the world must support a range of bold policies to help them.

We know from recent experience what needs to be done. Between 2001 and 2019, the number of low-income countries – where annual per capita income is below $995 – fell by almost half (from 64 to 34), as 32 low-income countries attained middle-income status, whereas only two new countries joined the group of low-income countries. This remarkable progress in just one generation – the result of strong growth, better policies, and in some cases plain luck – lifted millions of people out of poverty.

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