Thesis: It is important to understand why poor countries remain poor in order for them to escape from poverty.
Almost three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day, suggesting there are still many people suffering from hunger. Nevertheless, we tend to neglect the fact that about 21,000 people die every day of hunger in many developing countries according to the United Nations. Some people claim that global malnutrition could fall 84 percent as agricultural productivity increases. Thus, some economists expect that poor countries will soon escape from what we call “poverty traps”, which is a spiraling mechanism that forces people to remain poor(Wiki) . This, however, is not necessarily true. In fact, I agree with the idea that higher agricultural productivity would alleviate global poverty. However, it is important us to examine what are the fundamental causes of poverty to help poor people to escape from poverty trap.
The causes of poverty are various but one certain cause is corruption of government. When governments only exist to benefit themselves without properly functioning for their people, development or economic growth are nearly impossible. There are many international organizations or Non-governmental Organizations that aid poor countries but their aids are sometimes meaningless due to corrupted government officials. For instance, BBC news once pointed out that a large sum of money, approximately 32 billion dollar of aid, was ineffective to poverty reduction in a sense that it did not help solving poverty problems in Afghanistan. If the money was used properly to alleviate poverty, it could instead be used to build schools or improve health care systems and the infrastructures. The chart below shows corruption perceptions index of 2013, which measures perceived levels of corruption that are determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. The chart suggests that countries such as Syria, Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, North Korea and others that are considered as developing countries have also high level of corruption. However, developed countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, United States and others have relatively low level of corruption, implying there is a positive correlation between the level of corruption and poverty.
Another cause of poverty is a heavy reliance on natural resources. There are many countries such as Russia and China that have successfully amassed a great amount of wealth by exporting their natural resources like oil. Similarly, Sudan, Angola, Republic of Congo and other developing countries in Africa have earned a significant amount of money. However, these countries all failed to distribute wealth to their people, which shows an example of natural resource curse. Natural resource curse indicates that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth than countries with fewer natural resources. (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2013/09/warner.htm). This is mainly because revenues from natural resources go directly to government officials and foreigners’ pockets, which enlarge the income inequality even more. In addition, corrupted governments do not spend their money on developing technologies that can extract natural resources without depending on technologies of foreign companies. Thus, abundance of natural resources weakened economies of developing countries by making them solely relying on their limited amount of natural resources that will run out someday.
Lastly, it is crucial for poor developing countries to improve their poor education systems. There are numerous ways or policies that we can employ for better economies but education is one of the most fundamental factors for the growth of economy. Unfortunately, more than 72 million children of primary education age never went to schools and 759 million adults are illiterate. No country can accomplish persistent economic development without investing a substantial amount of money and efforts in human capital. The main reason why we should focus on education for better economies is simple. The worker’s productivity is highly correlated with worker’s skills. When the workers are equipped with high skills, it means his or her productivity is also high, which contributes to a higher level of gross domestic product.