Best Decade Ever

Not only was the last decade the best of my life, it was best for the world:

A lot has changed in the past six years. The economies of the developing world have expanded 50 percent in real terms, despite the Great Recession. Moreover, growth has been particularly high in countries with large numbers of poor people. India and China, of course, but also Bangladesh, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Uganda, Mozambique and Uzbekistan – nine countries that were collectively home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s poor in 2005 – are all experiencing phenomenal economic advances. ..

We updated the World Bank’s official $1.25-a-day figures to reveal how the global poverty landscape has changed. … We estimate that between 2005 and 2010, nearly half a billion people escaped extreme hardship, as the total number of the world’s poor fell to 878 million people. Never before in history have so many people been lifted out of poverty in such a short period. …. The emerging markets of Asia are recording the greatest successes; the two regional giants, China and India, are likely to account for three-quarters of the global reduction between 2005 and 2015. … With few exceptions, however, those who care about global development have been slow to catch on to this story. We hear far more about the 64 million people held back in poverty because of the Great Recession than we do about the hundreds of millions who escaped impoverishment over the past six years. (more)

The greatest surprise, however, is the one taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1980 and 2005, the region’s poverty rate had consistently hovered above 50 percent. Given the continent’s high population growth, its number of poor rose steadily. The current period is different. For the first time, Sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty rate has fallen below 50 percent. The total number of poor people in the region is falling too. (more)

Doesn’t sound much like stagnation to me.

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  • > Doesn’t sound much like stagnation to me.

    I would expect you of all people to appreciate the difference between technological breakthroughs and mere growth.

    • Proper Dave

      Yes, the world economy is almost exclusively driven by the “emerging” markets today. There definitely seems to be some kind of stagnation in the developed world.

    • Chris T

      One of Tyler’s claims is that stagnating technological growth is indicated by a plateau in American median income. Since technology is not the providence of one nation, it’s rather difficult to see why one country’s economic growth should be a measure of innovation.

      Especially since the world at large is showing the complete opposite – historically rapid growth.

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  • Robin

    Tyler’s book is how *America* ate all the low-hanging fruit and is heading for a period of stagnation. Your claims are 1. retrospective and 2. about countries that are not America, so I’m not sure they serve as a counter to his thesis.

    Tyler also claims explicitly that countries which are not America/Europe/Japan have plenty of low-hanging fruit in the form of technology and institutions that can be copied.

    I take this whole post as evidence in favor of his thesis rather than against it.

  • Hopeful

    “There definitely seems to be some kind of stagnation in the developed world.”

    How much of this is due to demographics ?

  • I’m skeptical that the developed world is stagnating, but my main claim here is about the world. The world as a whole is doing nothing like stagnating lately, re growth or innovation.

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  • Hi Robin, can you list some innovations and inventions that have originated in the emerging world and cannot fairly be called “copying”? I am frankly having trouble.

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  • Is it odd that economists should have diametrically opposed opinions on a question that’s so (one would think) easy?

    Also, shouldn’t the difference in opinion compel you to update your priors?

    • Douglas Knight

      They don’t. As the other commenters say, Robin is just wildly misrepresenting Tyler’s position.

      • PJF

        That more seems like a misrepresentation of Robin’s position, given he has done nothing more than draw an interesting contrast between a US-centric position and a global one – there is barely even an implicit critique of Tyler here, let alone an explicit one.

  • Gil

    Or put it another way: Westerners crap on about how bad the economic downturn is despite that’s it nothing like the Great Depression and that they still live like royalty relative to the poorest people in the world?

    • bo

      There are something like 10 million americans living in nutritional difficulties (they are very poor).

  • jambo

    Whoo Man, here I was thinking, that as we are living in the 6th extinction period, a time when Europe is out of dough, China out of water, and the U.S. taxpayers are hocked out to the distant future, “we” (neoliberal elite mandarin class) were managing some numerous things wrong and might try to learn to see the big picture and learn to do things differently. So (out of carpentry work me)when I first read this, I wondered where the Brookings folks were coming from with their back slapping. So off to Google. and Ah Ha! there is Another point of view relating to those Indian farmer suicides, and surging mexican tortilla prices, etc.

    • mike

      A ridiculous piece from a ridiculous source.

      • jambo

        Label meister Mike. I’m curious. Are you one of today’s young republicans? If so you might care to see what your party’s leaders were saying and doing when I was a sprat.

  • jambo

    Seems like more than one mainstream media outlet has reported on the lead of illiterate african farmers in reducing poverty.

    • Chris T

      But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of this by allowing individuals to own trees.

      Yet another example of the power of property rights.

  • Jambo
  • “Not only was the last decade the best of my life, it was best for the world”

    biography creates ideology, robin. you are believing what is most convenient to you. what are your thoughts on peak oil, global warming, exponential population growth, corporate control of legislative powers, factory farming, worldwide pollution, and the american military industrial complex?

    just wondering.

    or just keep on believing that as capitalism grows and economies grow, that standards of living improve across the board, and that the rising tide lifts all boats.

    no one is drowning, robin, as long as you are on dry land.

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