Nearly two hundred years after the Industrial Revolution, fifty years after the Green Revolution, and a decade and a half after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, it is a tragic fact that half of the world’s population is living in abject poverty and misery. Approximately 10 percent of the present world population (roughly 600 million people) is estimated to live on or below an equivalent economic level of $1 per day, and approximately half of the world population (3 billion people) live on or below an equivalent economic level of $2 per day.
Yet almost universally, from failed domestic policies in countries around the world to dysfunctional national and international institutions, the typical proposals to reduce poverty continue to frame the problem as one of a lack of physical resources, unjust terms of trade, and unfair capital flows. Characteristic of this mindset are calls for increased government-to-government financial aid, which tends to suppress the development of a strong and secure entrepreneurial sector capable of hastening private economic development in the recipient country.
There are many practical examples of market-based solutions that have worked to end poverty. There is no dearth of talent, intelligence, and enterprise that can’t be harnessed to liberate the bulk of the world’s population from the desperation in which they now lead their lives. Instead, the challenge in the Information Age is to bring together the scholarly research on innovative solutions to ending povertyresearch that is based on the entrepreneurial spirit shown by millions of destitute people around the world in their everyday lives and on the success stories of countries that have made recent progress toward economic and social development. We believe that showcasing and disseminating these solutions in an attractive and effective manner will help create an environment in which these innovations can take root and thrive.
The solutions to worldwide poverty lie in institutional changeschanges that occur only as the result of a shift in popular and intellectual perceptions. In order to foster these changes, The Independent Institute has created the Center on Global Prosperity to bring together the intellectual, moral, and practical analyses necessary to shed light on the viability of market-based solutions. The results of these studies are utilized to produce books, conferences, and major media programs for academic, political, business, religious, and civic leaders, as well as the general public.