A converging world

Incomes in more and more developing countries are starting to close the gap with those in OECD countries in the past decade, as we pointed out in our previous posts on economic convergence. In fact, in 65 countries GDP per capita grew at least twice as fast as in the high-income OECD countries, sharply up from just 12 countries in the 1990s. That means more convergence in the global economy. Despite this shift, many countries are still poor or classed as “struggling”. Our map shows which countries have converged and which continue to lag behind.

Is Africa catching up?

The 2000s were for much of the developing world a first decade of strong growth since the 1970s. They were marked by a global shift in wealth and the emergence of a new geography of the world economy. But the shift is not just about major emerging markets such as China, but shows up in African growth figures as well. This should not be surprising: a 2008 article in the OECD Observer reported that Africa had survived the early crisis quite well, and since 2000 the magazine has been highlighting the growing interest in Africa among private investors, not to mention its brighter image as a place for young people from OECD countries to go and find work. (more…)

Five years to meet the goals

This year marks an important milestone for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – there’s now just five years left until the date set for their achievement, 2015. So, will the world meet all the goals it set at the turn of the century for reducing things like extreme poverty, child mortality and deaths from disease such as HIV/AIDS?

Without a major push over the next half-decade, the answer is probably no. Some real progress has been made, but “improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises,” says United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon in the U.N.’s annual report  on the MDG’s, which was released this week.

The report points to particular progress in meeting the target for poverty reduction, and forecasts that the number of people living under the international poverty line in 2015 will be half what it was in 1990. There has been progress in other areas, too, including getting more children into school, reducing child deaths from malaria and measles and slowing deforestation.

Less encouraging, the numbers of people who are undernourished continues to grow while progress on gender equality has been “sluggish on all fronts – from education to access to political decision-making”.

Useful links

African Economic Outlook http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/

Aid to developing countries

With the crisis still unfolding, can governments meet their agreed development aid targets? Total net official development assistance (ODA) from donor countries in the OECD Development Assistance Committee came to $119.6 billion in 2009, which is a real increase of 0.7% from 2008. If debt forgiveness is excluded, the real increase jumps to 6.8%. In fact, development aid rose by some 30% in real terms between 2004 and 2009, and continued to grow during the crisis, unlike other financial flows to developing countries, which have fallen sharply. Nonetheless, more aid effort is needed.