As I sit typing this post on my laptop in a dorm at one of the best (and most expensive) colleges in the United States, I sort of begin to wonder why I even write what I write. In what world would someone who has so many comforts and luxuries be considered “low-income”? Sure, I don’t fly around in my private jet counting my diamonds, but I do get three square meals a day (more if I want them), and while my public school wasn’t the best, I was taught how to read, and gained much more than basic proficiency in most subjects.
This, sadly, makes me part of a small minority among the world’s population. Millions upon millions are living beneath the internationally accepted poverty line, $1.25 a day, and millions more beneath $2.00 a day. So much human talent and innovation are being lost as we allow children to die at a young age or simply never become educated. Which is, of course, why all developed countries are (rightly) interested in the development of less wealthy countries. That, and the fact that by developing poor countries they are adding to the size of the pie that is the global economy, which is great for everyone.
The point of this post is not to propose a solution to this problem, as many economists have tried (and failed) to do in the past. My point is simply to bring this problem to your attention. While everyone knows that poverty, hunger, illiteracy, etc. are huge global problems, they seldom try to solve them in a meaningful way. Oh, they may donate to this or that fund and then happily go on their way, whistling a merry tune to celebrate solving all of the world’s problems, but once again, they’ll have made the error that is common among most developed countries – thinking that throwing money at a problem will solve it.
That is not to say that those funds don’t do some good on a case by case basis, which I’m sure they do, but rather to say that one must treat the cause of the issue, and not just its symptoms. Rather than paying for food and medicine for one child, they could invest in irrigation techniques to increase agricultural yields and well-building to give the whole village a source of clean water which will help prevent disease. You can find a charity that facilitates this here.
It’s things like these – institutional and infrastructural changes – that need to be implemented if these developing countries are ever to become self-sufficient. Roads and banks (a charity that serves as a sort of replacement bank and gives loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries can be found here) would be a good start, but that seems far-fetched, so we’ll have to content ourselves with smaller changes on the local level. In addition, the economic conditions of these developing nations must be studied further and individually rather than collectively if we are ever to understand the economics of developing countries.