Globalisation improves well-being in both rich and poor countries

Globalisation has long been criticised for making the rich richer and the poor poorer, but a new study says that argument is misleading. Since per capita income measures don't convey the significant improvements in life expectancy, education and the supply of food, they do not necessarily indicate quality of life. Worldwide the well-being disparity between rich and poor countries is shrinking due to the economic growth and technological advances associated with globalisation.

  • The difference in life expectancy between high-income countries and middle-income countries decreased from 24.5 years in 1960 to 8.6 years in 1999, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa.

  • During the past half century the gap in infant mortality between developed and developing countries has been reduced by 50 percent.

  • While much of the world still suffers from hunger, between 1961 and 1999 the average daily food supplies per person increased 24 percent globally from 2,257 calories to 2,808 calories.

  • The increase in food availability was even more rapid in developing countries, where it increased 39 percent, from 1,932 calories to 2,684 calories.

    The data suggest that globalisation leads to an increase in overall well-being for both developed and developing countries. Furthermore, researchers say that wealth disparities encourage the invention, innovation and diffusion of new technologies by wealthier nations that ultimately benefit lower income countries.

    Source: Indur M. Goklany, The Globalisation of Human Well-Being Policy Analysis 447, August 22, 2002, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-3490.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin\17 September 2002
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