World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said boosting shared prosperity for the lowest 40% of income earners in developing countries will improve the lives of all members of society, not only a fortunate few.
“Our goal of boosting shared prosperity will be achieved by raising incomes, creating jobs, educating children and providing all with access to food, water and health care,” said Kim in a speech given in advance of the IMF-World Bank Group Annual Meetings to students and faculty at Howard University on Wednesday. “By doing so, we will grow our wealth and nurture our humanity.”
The president stressed the need to help low-income countries grow their economies. In the last four years alone, high growth rates in China and India have meant that 233 million people no longer live in poverty.
But poorest people in these countries must share in the gains of that growth, he said. Kim cited a recent Oxfam International report that found the world’s richest 85 people have as much combined wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion.
“Shared prosperity is part of the Bank Group’s headline goals simply because it is required to end poverty,” Kim said. “With so many Africans, as well as Asians and Latin Americans, living in extreme poverty, this state of affairs is a stain on our collective conscience.”
The president talked about how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa underlines the importance of addressing inequality. “This pandemic shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem,” Kim said.