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UN finds rising prosperity in developing countries
MEXICO CITY — The proportion of the world’s middle class living in developing nations more than doubled between 1990 and 2010 and is expected to rise to more than 80 per cent of the globe’s total by 2030, a United Nations report said. The UN Development Programme’s 2013 Human Development report, released in Mexico City, says the share of middle-class people living in “the global south” expanded from 26 per cent to 58 per cent over 20 years.
By 2030, developing nations will have the vast majority of the world’s middle-class people, and account for 70 per cent of total consumer spending, it said. The report predicts that by the end of the current decade, the economic output of Brazil, India and China will outstrip that of the United States, Germany, Britain, Canada, France and Italy combined.
The report highlights Latin America, and especially Brazil, Chile and Mexico, which it lists as pioneers in three main development drivers: more proactive states in development policies, greater integration with global markets and innovation in social policy. It lauds innovative social programmes that aim at reducing poverty and historic social inequalities, such as Mexico’s Oportunidades campaign and Brazil’s Bolsa Familia.
“These social programmes really show their worth when you have a period like the global financial crisis when Mexico takes a hit after what happened in the United States... having that basic floor of support in place stops a country from losing the development it gained,” said Helen Clark, administrator of the UN Development Programme. She said that to keep the region’s development momentum, governments need to implement policies that focus on education and address gender inequality.
Latin American growth has been led by strong states that experienced a gradual integration with the world economy, the report says. While Brazil experimented with inward-oriented economic strategies, national companies were still encouraged to export and compete globally. Brazil’s Embraer, for example, is now the world’s leading producer of mid-size jet aircraft.
Chile encouraged investment in sectors where the country had a comparative advantage, such as wine, wood products and fish farming, which would also boost employment in the rural south, the report says.
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