People have struggled to find the best way to fight poverty since the earliest societies, but the answer is obvious if we just look at history.
From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution to modern times, poverty has been eased in the most radical and rapid way whenever people are free to work in the profession of their choice, to keep the fruits of their their work, to acquire and maintain private property and to rely on legal to protect their personal and economic freedoms.
In recent decades, this age of relatively free enterprise and world trade has led to an unprecedented reduction in poverty.
This may surprise many who have heard the story, popular in the media and some academic circles, which claims that not only the rich get rich, but the poor get poorer.
Indeed, when a survey by Hans Rosling for Gapminder asked people whether the portion of the worlds population living in extreme poverty had a) almost doubled, b) remained about the same, or c) almost divided halved in the past 20 years, only 5% of Americans correctly answered that it had been cut in half.
According to World Bank estimates, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $ 1.90 a day, has declined steadily from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015 (and to about 8.6% in 2018) the lowest level in recorded history.
In total, 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in just a quarter of a century an extraordinary achievement!
In addition, 80% of those who remain in extreme poverty are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, mainly in countries characterized by war, corruption and lack of economic freedom.
These results are supported by various freedom indexes, such as Frasers annual Freedom Institute of the Economic Institute (or its index of human freedom, which includes measures of personal freedom in addition to economic freedom).
These studies consistently show an incredibly strong correlation between nations that offer greater economic and personal freedom and desirable characteristics like higher per capita income and economic growth, lower poverty levels, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, greater gender equality and generally higher levels of happiness.
So while many are focusing on the next government program that will surely be the quick fix for reducing poverty, the best solution is to simply create the conditions that allow people to prosper by eliminating government laws and regulations that exacerbate poverty by restricting economic and personal factors. freedoms.
Adam B. Summers is a researcher at the Independent Institute and a former columnist and columnist for the Orange County Register and the Southern California News Group.
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