“The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer”, self-proclaimed critics of globalization – by which I assume they mean economic liberalization – often argue. While the world hasn’t exclusively seen trade and markets liberalized everywhere, and poverty hasn’t decreased in every village and tribe around the world, there has undoubtedly been a strong move towards economic liberalization in the last thirty or so years. Coinciding with this has been:

Furthermore, by region:

What can we attribute the tremendous dip for “East Asia” to? Has China become more protectionist? Has India increased regulation of industries? Has Singapore dramatically increased wealth distribution? Generally speaking, no. These countries have all shifted away from collectivist, planned economies and more towards market-based systems.

Some regions have improved more than others. Some places are worse off than they were a few decades ago. Fine, blame the IMF, World Bank, or western corporatism. But this doesn’t negate the fact that “globalization” has decreased the number living in poverty by 400 million (even though world population grew).

A paper by Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin remarks:

Using the official $1/day line, we estimate that world poverty rates have fallen by 80% from 0.268 in 1970 to 0.054 in 2006. The corresponding total number of poor has fallen from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006.

Globalization might not be as glorious of a story as its supporters say it is, but those numbers are hard to argue with. “Poor getting poorer”?

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