5 Myths about Global Poverty
1. Poor Countries Will Always Stay Poor
Once a country is deemed “poor,” it’s almost impossible for it to turn around, right? Wrong! Take Mexico City, for example. In 1987, when Bill Gates first visited, the conditions “reminded him of rural Africa,” proliferated with incredible smog and a lack of running water. Yet, 27 years later, the city gleams with high-rise buildings, cleaner air and new roads and bridges. Today the mostly middle class Mexico City is a prime example of a country’s ability to turn around from even the most drastic conditions.
2. The Eastern World is Mostly Impoverished
Per-person income in Turkey and Chile are where the US was in 1960. Malaysia and Gabon are almost there. China’s per-person income has gone up eightfold since 1960. India’s has quadrupled, Brazil’s has quintupled. Even tiny Botswana has seen a 30-fold increase due to its shrewd management of mineral resources.
3. All of Africa is Poor
While there are pockets of poverty in all areas of the world, our vision of Africa is incredibly tainted. Today, per-person income in Africa has climbed by two-thirds, and seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the past five years are in Africa.
4. If it weren’t for all the foreign aid we give, developing countries wouldn’t have access to AIDS treatments.
Foreign aid, while incredibly important, only funds less than half of global AIDS programs. In 2012, for the second year, low and middle income countries were responsible for funding more than half of these programs. South Africa, home to more HIV-positive people than anywhere else in the world, funds 80 percent of its AIDS treatments and is on track to take over full funding and management of the problem by 2017.
5. We Already Spend Way Too Much on Foreign Aid
On average, Americans believe we spend 20 percent of our federal budget on foreign aid. In reality, only .2 percent of the U.S. Gross National Income goes toward improving living conditions for the world’s poor. Compared to other wealthy countries, the United States ranks one of the lowest in foreign aid spending. Spending money on foreign aid is an investment. Alleviating poverty doesn’t just save lives, it lays the groundwork for long-term economic progress.
– Nick Magnanti
Sources: Real Clear World, Huffington Post,
Photo: Big Think