’s free newsletters."data-newsletterpromo-image="https://static.scientificamerican.com/sciam/cache/file/458BF87F-514B-44EE-B87F5D531772CF83_source.png"data-newsletterpromo-button-text="Sign Up"data-newsletterpromo-button-link="https:// origincode=2018_sciam_Article Promo_Newsletter Sign Up"name="article Body" itemprop="article Body" Globalization and the attendant concerns about poverty and inequality have become a focus of discussion in a way that few other topics, except for international terrorism or global warming, have.
Most people I know have a strong opinion on globalization, and all of them express an interest in the well-being of the world's poor.
The financial press and influential international officials confidently assert that global free markets expand the horizons for the poor, whereas activist-protesters hold the opposite belief with equal intensity.
Yet the strength of people's conviction is often in inverse proportion to the amount of robust factual evidence they have.
Of the more than 400 million Chinese lifted above the international poverty line between 19, three fourths got there by 1987.
Similarly, rural poverty reduction in India may be attributable to the spread of the Green Revolution in agriculture, government antipoverty programs and social movements--not the trade liberalization of the 1990s.
If anything, such instability reduced their extent of globalization, as it scared off many foreign investors and traders. Sweatshops GLOBAL MARKET competition in general rewards people with initiative, skills, information and entrepreneurship in all countries.
Volatile politics amplifies longer-term factors such as geographic isolation, disease, overdependence on a small number of export products, and the slow spread of the Green Revolution [see Can Extreme Poverty Be Eliminated? Poor people everywhere are handicapped by their lack of access to capital and opportunities to learn new skills.
As is common in contentious public debates, different people mean different things by the same word.
Some interpret globalization to mean the global reach of communications technology and capital movements, some think of the outsourcing by domestic companies in rich countries, and others see globalization as a byword for corporate capitalism or American cultural and economic hegemony.