Pro-poor Globalization

The potential benefits of a more integrated World are huge, but unevenly distributed.

Globalization requires adjustment, flexibility, mobility and change, but many people are ill-equipped to handle change and unable to turn change into new opportunities.

The ability to take advantage of change is highly correlated with education, which is why well-educated people and countries benefit much more from globalization than poor, un-educated people and countries. In a dynamic and rapidly changing world, the poor are often either left behind or may even suffer reductions in living standards as their skills and jobs get replaced by new technology.

Rather than trying to slow down progress to avoid that people have to adapt to change, we should help people everywhere to become more flexible, mobile, and imaginative, so that they are better able to take advantage of changing opportunities. This includes not only giving them access to modern education and technology, but also reducing obstacles to migration.

Much aid is given with the opposite objective: To improve living conditions for the poor at their place of origin in order to prevent that they move to cities or more developed countries. But fighting the strong forces of change in this way rarely provides permanent solutions. It may provide temporary relief, but it generally just postpones the inevitable adjustment that will have to be made if people are to escape poverty.

Have you heard any beneficial ways to help people adapt to changes spawned by globalization? Leave a reply below.

(*) Director, Institute for Advanced Development Studies, La Paz, Bolivia. The author happily receives comments at the following e-mail:


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