The United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report focuses on the great growth of the middle class in the global south. The report judges human development based on the average health, education, and income of a country’s citizens.
The report estimates that by 2020, economic and political power will have transferred from Europe and North America to the “Global South.” Brazil, China, and India are predicted to surpass the combined gross domestic output of Canada, Germany, Italy, France, and the U.S.
The UNDP’s surveys of almost every country on earth found improved health, education, and income of its citizens in the past 10 years. Standards of living are even improving in the smaller developing nations like Bangladesh, Ghana, Chile, Mauritius, Tunisia and Rwanda.
Moreover, the fastest global growth rates are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former with 3.9 percent and the latter with 1.7 percent over the last 12 years. Mexico, Indonesia, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Yemen have also undergone notable growth.
The global South has reached its high growth levels through wise national strategies that enabled their countries to engage in the global economy, and to simultaneously implement social programs that protect the vulnerable from harmful competition.
Many countries in Latin America including Brazil, Mexico, and Chile have instated programs to eradicate poverty and address equality. For instance, Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, Mexico’s Oportunidades, and Chile’s Chile Solidario will increase individual’s income if he/she fulfills certain conditions, like maintaining high school attendance and going to health clinics semi-regularly.
Increasing online and mobile connectivity in the global South has also boosted the economic growth of developing countries. Excluding the U.S., Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, and Mexico have the most daily social media traffic in the world. Moreover, Indonesia’s investments have connected its most remote islands to the outside world, and as of 2010, 220 million cell phones were registered to a country with 240 million people.
Partnerships between developing countries have also helped the global South overtake developing nations in consideration to growth. China’s trade with Sub-Saharan Africa has increased from $1 billion to more than $140 billion from 1992 to 2011. Likewise, Indian companies are providing medicine, medical equipment as well as information and communications technology (ICT) products to numerous countries in Africa.
Another sign of growth is evident in the rising migration between developing countries that has recently reached such a height, that it has surpassed net migration from South to North.
The global North is also encouraging South-South trade. U.S. exports to China, Latin America, and Caribbean have grown 2 ½ times faster than U.S. exports to more customary Northern markets.
Gender inequality is one of the major remaining hurtles for countries in the south to overcome. Bill Orme, UNDP’s spokesman said government investment in social sectors will result in increasingly forward-moving countries. He noted the special importance of education. The educational levels of mothers have been proven to be directly linked to their children’s health.
“If you were going to identify one single factor,” Orme said, “… that would almost guarantee that your country will do better 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the road … invest in girls and women’s education and ensure that they have equal opportunities.”
All of these aspects have contributed to the current growth of the global South, and if, as predicted, the South continues to increase its economic and political power, perhaps it will be time for the U.S. to increase its investment in the developing world.
– Kasey Beduhn
Source: NPR, UN News Centre