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March 21, 2013

Persistent concern about poverty in developing nations tempers optimism for the future

A report by Oxford University last week predicted that poverty in many of the fastest-developing countries could be wiped out within the next two decades if current trends continue. This report followed a similar assessment from the UN, which concluded that poverty eradication programmes had had far greater impact than expected, and that hundreds of millions of people were in the process of being lifted into the global middle class.

Citizens of developing world nations broadly share this upbeat assessment, and believe that the coming years will bring significant social improvements. Large majorities in China (78%), Brazil (77%), Nigeria and Kenya (both 65%) agree that society will become healthier and more equitable over the next twenty years.

For now, though, poverty remains a major concern. With the exception of Mexico, where concern has reached an all time low, and Turkey, where it has dropped sharply, poverty is still seen as a more serious issue in many countries than it was ten years ago. Concern about poverty has risen in China in recent years, while remaining at high levels in Brazil and Nigeria.

But this should not obscure the fact that growth and rising incomes are contributing to growing optimism across the developing world. This increasing self-confidence offers global companies an ideal context in which to partner with other organizations to help tackle poverty, while maybe winning some of the respect that often eludes them.

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