Prosperous Times​—For Whom?

WE LIVE in a prosperous world. Do you find that hard to believe? Actually, some nations cannot spend all their money. It has been estimated that the 2005 gross world product, the total value of goods and services produced in that year, exceeds $60 trillion. That vast production, spread over earth’s population, comes to about $9,000 for each person now alive. And it is increasing.

But global prosperity is part of a great irony. According to a recent United Nations publication, the wealth of the world’s three richest individuals is greater than the combined gross domestic product of the 48 poorest nations. And the UN Development Programme states that 2.5 billion people are trying to survive on less than $2 a day. Hundreds of millions are undernourished and cannot obtain clean drinking water.

In the United States, sociologists are studying a group they term the “near poor.” The risk of such ones falling into poverty is great. Over 50 million people there find themselves in that condition despite the country’s great wealth.

Why is it that worldwide a flood of money is pouring into treasuries and bank accounts but a flood of misery still covers hundreds of millions of poor people? Why do so many have so little opportunity to benefit from the world’s growing wealth?

[Blurb on page 3]

The three richest people in the world are wealthier than the 48 poorest nations combined

 [Picture on page 2, 3]

Child laborers in this brick factory earn about 50 cents a day

[Credit Line]

© Fernando Moleres/​Panos Pictures

[Picture Credit Line on page 3]

© Giacomo Pirozzi/​Panos Pictures