The World’s Richest Man is Predicting No Poverty in 2035

ByJoseph Matos

The news: Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is predicting that poverty will vanish by 2035.

Gates said in an annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published Tuesday that, "The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful."

Gates' arguments hold major significance because his foundation is forcefully dismissing common notions that poverty is unsolvable and foreign aid is improvident.

Gates outlined three common myths in the global proverty battle, which he argues hampers development for poverty-ridden countries: the myth that poor countries are doomed to stay poor, the myth that foreign aid is a big waste and the myth that saving lives leads to over-population.

Gates argues that these myths create a poisonous mindset.

In his letter, he said: "We hear these myths raised at international conferences and at social gatherings. We get asked about them by politicians, reporters, students, and CEOs. All three reflect a dim view of the future, one that says the world isn’t improving but staying poor and sick, and getting overcrowded...We’re going to make the opposite case, that the world is getting better, and that in two decades it will be better still."

Gates added that by 2035, there will be close to no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be lower-middle income or richer. 

"Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments," Gates said.

Gates' definition of poverty is based off of the World Bank’s definition and is adjusted for inflation according to his letter. As of 2014, the World Bank lists 35 countries in poverty, stated in the October 10 The State of the Poor analysis.

But what would it actually take for there to be no more poor countries by 2035?

Based on this graph, Gates developed a captivating argument showcasing his point, which is the myth of poor countries staying poor isn’t true. The graph highlights that they have certainly not stayed poor. Many of the countries that were once considered poor now have flourishing economies, Gates argues, with the percentage of the poor falling by more than half since 1990.

Gates states in the letter some exceptions: North Korea could be held back by politics, and countries that are land-locked in Africa could see sluggish improvement.

Whether Gates' argument rings true, he has said that inequality will still be a problem along with there being poor people in every region.

"Most of them will live in countries that are self-sufficient," Gates said. "Every nation in South America, Asia, and Central America (with the possible exception of Haiti), and most in coastal Africa, will have joined the ranks of today’s middle-income nations. More than 70% of countries will have a higher per-person income than China does today. Nearly 90% will have a higher income than India does today."

The argument for more foreign aid: Gates is wildly optimistic and finds the pessimists of his foundation's mission entirely wrong. In the next portion of the letter, he tackles another myth which is that foreign aid is a big waste. Gates argues that health aid is a phenomenal investment. He realizes that fewer children are dying now than 30 years ago, and now many people are living long and healthier lives. Gates said that this leaves him "optimistic about the future."

Bloomberg News interviewed Gates on Tuesday, and he said that headlines mislead people because bad news is featured and slow improvement is not. He added: "We almost have to take a letter like this and speak out and say, 'Wait a minute, despite how bad we feel about what’s not yet done, we have some approaches that work.' And the cynicism is holding us back."