In April 2013, the World Bank set two new goals: to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in the 140-plus client countries we serve. Promoting shared prosperity means that we will work to increase the incomes and welfare of the poorer segments of society wherever they are, be it the poorest of nations or thriving, middle-income countries.
The shared-prosperity goal reflects the fact that as developing countries grow their economies and lift millions out of poverty, they may also experience growing inequality. We now know that nations with a widening gap between those who can and cannot access opportunities in life have difficulty sustaining economic growth and social stability over time. To date, no country has managed to transition beyond a middle-income status while maintaining high levels of inequality.
Our work to help level the playing field in the countries we serve is not necessarily an agenda to redistribute an economic pie of a fixed size – or to take from the rich and give to the poor. Rather, we will work with our client countries to try to continuously expand the size of that pie and to share it in a way that benefits groups at the lower end of the income scale, the bottom 40 percent.