Have Agricultural Economists Neglected Poverty Issues? (TheDistinguishedl Lecture)

Publication Year : 1991

In the short term one can be pessimistic about the collectiveprogress of the Third World and its interactions with industrialcountries. There is plenty of bad news. With one-quarter of the world’spopulation, industrialized countries consume about 80 percent of theworld’s goods. With three-quarters of the world’s population, developingcountries command less than one-quarter of the world’s resources. Andthe imbalance is growing worse.! Of the 2.7 billion people in thetropical and subtropical regions outside of China, 40 percent live inpoverty; more than 14 million of their children under 5 years of agestarve to death or die of disease each year? Furthermore, at the sametime as an increasing proportion of the population of Africa is composedof young people (65 percent of its population is now under age 25),education budgets are being cut – from $ 10.8 billion in 1980 to $ 5.8billion in 1986.3 In an article assessing the globalization ofeconomies, Richard J. Barnet writes: “Poverty, population pressures,civil war, and repression are turning Sub-Saharan Africa – black Africaminus South Africa and Namibia – into a giant disaster zone, and incountries in South America, such as Colombia and Peru, the civil societyis dissolving. In the Philippines more than seventy percent of thepopulation is poor by any human standard. With the end of the Cold War,the increasing marginalization of the Third World appears likely.”4 Thepredictions are ominous. Barnet concludes his article, written beforethe crisis in Iraq, by speaking to an industrial-country audience:”There is no real north-south dialogue, and politicians in theindustrial world feel little pressure to begin one.

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