The Rise of the World’s Poorest Countries

October 26, 2015
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

About the Event

For more than two decades now, the majority of the world’s poorest countries have been making some of the fastest and biggest development gains in history. The momentous progress achieved since the early 1990s is unprecedented. One-billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, the child death rate has been cut in half, life expectancy has increased significantly, millions more girls are enrolled in school, deaths in civil wars have dropped by three-quarters, average incomes have almost doubled, food production has increased by half, and democracy has spread like never before in the world’s poorest countries, notwithstanding many setbacks, obstacles, and imperfections along the way. Some of these gains rank among the greatest achievements in human history. Yet few people are aware that this progress is even happening. Based on his October 2015 Journal of Democracy article with the same title, Steven Radelet discussed this surprising global transformation. Richard Messick provided comments.


  • Steven Radelet, Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

With comments by:

  • Richard Messick, Senior Contributor, Global Anticorruption Blog

Moderated by:

  • Marc F. Plattner, Vice President, Research and Studies, National Endowment for Democracy, Editor, Journal of Democracy

About the Speakers

Steven Radelet holds the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Prior to joining the Georgetown faculty in 2012, he served as Chief Economist of USAID and Senior Adviser for Development for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is the author of Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way (2010) and The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World (forthcoming).

Richard E. Messick consults for international organizations, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations on legal development and anticorruption issues. After serving as Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he joined the World Bank where he worked until his retirement on legal and judicial reform and anticorruption projects. His writings have appeared in scholarly and popular publications including the American Political Science Review, the World Bank Research Observer, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.


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