Wikistrat recently conducted a brainstorming session entitled “Implications of Global Poverty Decline By 2030.” Wikistrat Analysts were asked to provide commentaries describing what impact global poverty decline will have on the world by 2030. Below are some of the highlighted answers.
Skill-Upgrading in Developing Countries Alters Global Production Chains
Dr. Amanda Jakobsson
Wikistrat Contributing Analyst
Assistant Professor of Economics at Singapore Management University
Poverty decline in Africa and Asia by 2030 results in a large increase in skill-acquisition as people can afford more education. A rise of these new middle-income countries will therefore lead to a large increase in the pool of the world’s middle-skilled workers. Production of manufactured goods is fragmented to a large extent across countries already today. The last few decades have seen the offshoring of labor-intensive tasks in global production, making China the factory of the world; this will by 2030 likely be followed by massive offshoring of skill-intensive tasks – such as the assembly of advanced components, coordination of upstream component production and managerial tasks. The winners of the economic race across these emerging economies will be the countries that develop the transport technology, infrastructure and judicial systems (to enforce supplier contracts) to grab a chunk of the newly offshored tasks of global production chains.
China’s Ticking Time Bomb
MA in Chinese Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
As China rises out of poverty, income adjustments naturally take place, further boosted by the rising wages wave that has been rippling the country’s job market since early 2013. Whilst the development encourages the desired and necessary transition to a consumption-driven economy, it also introduces meaningful challenges to the ruling business class. On the one hand, foreign investment starts seeing China’s labor market as less attractive than before. This pushes investors to start looking outwards in search of more profitable manufacturing fields. On the other hand, Chinese workers, benefiting from improved economic conditions, start demanding better working conditions and a revised relationship between time spent at work and payment received. It won’t happen by way of protests, given the country’s highly controlled public sphere (which sounds like as oxymoron, as it is). Instead, people will simply refuse to work under conditions they see as unfair. The shortage of low-pay labor supply will force companies to adapt to the new (economically developed) reality and upgrade working conditions in order to survive.
Poverty Decline in Central Asia by 2030 Results in Color Revolutions Round Two
Wikistrat Contributing Analyst
The “color revolutions” in the first decade of the twenty-first century demonstrated the hunger in Central Asia and surrounding regions for accountable, democratic governance. Most post-Soviet successor states retained the same political classes in power as during the Soviet era. A popular uprising sought a change to this status quo, but was stymied at almost every turn. A decade after Georgia’s Rose Revolution, and almost a decade after Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution, very little has changed. While little substantial change resulted from these popular uprisings, popular opinion is not likely to have forgotten the desire for truly representative governments in place of “autocracy-lite.”
Rising incomes mean rising expectations and the acquisition of consumer goods. These consumer goods make working class individuals more aware of what life is like beyond the border of their own nation-state. When some trigger comes along to once again give meaning, direction and purpose to a public angry and simmering with resentment over frustrated ambition, we see round two of the color revolutions, probably also occurring in other states of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan); this time, the color revolutions are much more likely to be effective in creating change and unseating unresponsive governments.
Poverty Decline in the Muslim World (Southwest Asia, Middle East) Results in Higher Education Levels for Girls
Wikistrat Senior Analyst
Foreign Area Advisor
At higher levels of poverty, families cannot afford to send all of their children to school. Not only is this based on the costs of school attendance (sometimes including supplies, uniforms, transportation and tuition) but also the opportunity cost of having a mouth to feed that produces no income. Generally, in the Muslim world the math is such that boys have a better chance to use their education, so the boys are often the ones sent to school – while the girls learn to do household chores or help with the family business where they can. If relieved of this choice, more families will be able to send their girls to school and raise the average education level. There has been some success in Southeast Turkey where the government has paid families to send their daughters to school.
Poverty Decline in Central Asia by 2030 Fuels Regional Water Tensions
Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins SAIS
The nations of Central Asia are already dealing with widespread ecological challenges: The mismanagement and overuse of their rivers has already dessicated the Aral Sea and drained chunks of the region’s irrigation system. As the region rises out of poverty, the boost in resource use, especially electricity and water, will continue to push the region towards conflict. Increasing demand for power will make Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic’s potential hydropower plants even more valuable to the two impoverished nations. Unfortunately, the risk of the dams blocking the irrigation of Uzbekistan’s cotton fields makes this move dangerous for the Uzbek economy, and the tensions between the nations will rise.
Poverty Decline in Thailand and the Recognition of Hill Tribe Groups
Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Northern Thailand is home to over twenty ethnic groups known as the Hill Tribes, and these groups face discrimination on a daily basis. More than half of the Hill Tribe population is stateless, and as a result they have limited or no access to education, employment, health care and more – ultimately making them second-class citizens.
With a global poverty decline, the Thai government may be more willing to recognize and grant citizenship for Hill Tribe people. Northern Thailand is a major tourist hub due to the Hill Tribes, and the economic benefits may incentivize the Thai government to incorporate and include the Hill Tribes into Thai society.
Hill Tribe members who are also Thai citizens will be better able to advocate for the rights of the indigenous groups due to their increased economic and social power. Additionally, civil society organizations working issues of statelessness will have better leverage. The Thailand Project (in cooperation with the Thai government) has granted several scholarships to Hill Tribe students to study in the United States. Upon receiving their college degree, the Thai government granted citizenship to these students, as they are now seen as contributing members of society.