As the World Economic Forum fills the snowy town of Davos with its usual hustle and bustle, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, used the occasion to deliver an optimistic message in his annual newsletter.
In the 25-page report, co-authored by Gates and his wife Melinda, who serve as co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they argued that the world is currently in a better state than ever before.
Gates made a bold prediction, stating that by 2035, there will be very few, if any, poor countries left in the world, even when adjusted for inflation, based on the World Bank’s classification of low-income countries.
He expressed his optimism in his annual note, which was published on Tuesday, saying, “Poor countries are not destined to remain poor. Some of the countries commonly referred to as ‘developing’ have already achieved significant development.”
Gates continued, “I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction. By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.”
According to Gates, countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from advancements such as new vaccines, improved seeds, and the digital revolution.
He stated, “By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Extreme poverty rates have been cut in half over the past 25 years. Child mortality is declining. Many nations that used to rely on aid are now self-sufficient.”
During his return to Davos, Gates plans to address common misconceptions about global development and challenge its most vocal critics.
He identified three major myths: the belief that poor countries are destined to remain poor, the notion that foreign aid is a wasteful endeavor, and the concern that saving lives leads to overpopulation.
Using data from academic sources, the World Bank, and the United Nations, Gates presents a counterargument, asserting that the world is making progress.
“I understand why people may hold these negative views. They see such news in the headlines. Bad news often occurs in dramatic events that are easy for reporters to cover,” he explained.
“Countries are becoming wealthier, but that progress is not easily captured on video. Health conditions are improving, but there are no press conferences for children who have been saved from malaria.”
Preliminary estimates from the World Bank indicate that the extreme poverty rate was halved between 1990 and 2010. This means that the percentage of people living on or below $1.25 a day in the developing world decreased from 43% in 1990 to 21% in 2010, and 52% in 1981.
Last year, the World Bank set a goal to reduce the global extreme poverty rate to no more than 3% by 2030.
Bill Gates is a familiar presence at the World Economic Forum. In last year’s event, he expressed concerns about austerity measures affecting public funding for combating diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV.
“The majority of the money that helps the poorest comes from government aid budgets,” Gates stated during last year’s Davos, adding that the future prioritization of aid in budgets remains uncertain.