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The End of Poverty

Economic Possibilities for Our Time

By Jeffrey Sachs
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs

The End of Poverty (2005) is a guide to ending extreme poverty once and for all. These blinks explain how little investment is actually required to transform the lives of millions. That is, as long as it’s spent wisely.

Key idea 1 of 9

The Industrial Revolution produced vast wealth for some, but billions still live in extreme poverty.

Equality varies tremendously from one country to another. In fact, while the people in wealthy countries have enormous resources at their disposal and consume much more than they need, those in the poorest nations struggle every day just to fill their stomachs with the food necessary for survival.

The result is that every day 18,000 children die of malnutrition. That’s one child every five seconds!

But these huge disparities in wealth haven’t always existed. In fact, they are a product of the last 200 years. For instance, 200 years ago, most people, regardless of where they lived, were pretty poor. As a result, the differences in poverty level between Europe and Africa were relatively small.

However, as some countries rapidly developed during the Industrial Revolution, they left others behind. For example, the steam engine enabled the mass production of goods while steam trains and ships boosted trade. Furthermore, the advent of electricity and telecommunication made further progress possible, resulting in the constant growth of the global economy.

But certain states benefited from this progress more than others: namely the Western nations.

As a result, countries outside the West remain poor to this day. For instance, today about one billion people are in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 a day. Another 1.5 billion are in moderate poverty, meaning they live on $1–2 a day. That’s enough for basic survival, but not enough for luxuries like a flush toilet or clean running water. Then there are the 2.5 billion people in the middle class. That means they can afford shelter, a television and maybe even a motorbike.

So why do some countries remain poor to this day?

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