The Rise of the World’s Poorest Countries

Issue Date October 2015
Volume 26
Issue 4
Page Numbers 5-19
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For more than two decades now, the majority of the world’s poorest countries have been making some of the fastest and biggest development gains in history. The momentous progress achieved since the early 1990s is unprecedented. One-billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, the child death rate has been cut in half, life expectancy has increased significantly, millions more girls are enrolled in school, deaths in civil wars have dropped by three-quarters, average incomes have almost doubled, food production has increased by half, and democracy has spread like never before in the world’s poorest countries, notwithstanding with many setbacks, obstacles, and imperfections along the way. Some of these gains—especially the declines in poverty and child mortality—rank among the greatest achievements in human history. Yet few people are aware that this progress is even happening.

About the Author

Steven Radelet holds the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way (2010).

View all work by Steven Radelet