Poverty has been falling sharply in the developing world, with the number of people living in extreme poverty falling to 10.7 percent for the first time in 2013. There is a consensus among development professionals that economic growth has been the single most important instrument for this decline in poverty in developing countries.
Rising economic growth provides the basis for expanding incomes and employment and also the resources needed by the government to finance programs for social uplift. Such growth is most effective when it is (a) inclusive in the sense it provides opportunities to all segments of society -- the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged; the middle class; and the wealthy -- to participate in the growth process, and (b) sustainable in ensuring that it only takes from nature what is required and does not disadvantage future generations. Rising growth leads to prosperity, which in turn enhances the well-being of people.
But high growth does not necessarily provide opportunities to every segment of society – particularly to the poor and disadvantaged – to engage in the growth process and benefit from it. Also, high growth does not always safeguard the environment.
The World Bank Group recognizes that while the pace of growth is important, the patterns of growth that protect the environment and emphasize increased opportunities for the poor and marginalized groups, including women and youth, can make growth more robust and sustainable.