Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates believes that by 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. By learning from their most productive neighbors and benefiting from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds and the digital revolution, nearly all countries will be what we now refer to as lower-middle income or richer according to an annual letter released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The letter also tries to dispel what he says are three common myths about global poverty: poor countries are doomed to stay poor, foreign aid is a big waste and saving lives leads to overpopulation. Gates said they hear these myths raised at international conferences, at social gatherings and they even get asked about them by politicians, reporters, students and CEOs.
The World Bank defines poor as any country with a gross national income per capita of $1,035 or less per year in 2012 dollars. At present, 36 countries fall into this category but the good news is that it wouldn’t take too much additional income for some to rise above poverty.
For example, the income level per capita in the Kyrgyz Republic would only need to increase by five percent over the next 20 years to be considered a middle-income nation. Other regions, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would need to increase income by a factor of five to reach the same level, however.
While the forecast may seem lofty, Gates is a realist and knows that not all nations will make it by 2035. Some, he said, will be held back by war, politics or geography while inequality will still remain an issue for others.