Fifty-fifth Lecture - Dr. Jim Yong Kim

Benita Ferrero

Fifty-fifth Lecture - April 23, 2014

“Economic and Social Outlook of Latin America and the Caribbean”

Speaker: Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group

Over the past decade, Latin America and the Caribbean have made tremendous progress in reducing poverty and in boosting shared prosperity. Poverty has fallen by half to 12.3 percent. The middle class -- currently 34 percent of the population -- is growing. Meanwhile, inequality in Latin America -- historically the world’s highest -- has fallen, even as it rises in practically every other part of the globe.

For the first time, the number of people in the middle class surpasses those living in poverty.

In fact, on the very same trip to Bolivia, when I was trying to keep up with President Evo on the soccer field, some of the villagers who were watching us were snapping pictures on their smart phones. This was one of the most remote parts of Bolivia, and even there, people have access to technologies that connect them to the wider world.

That lesson for me was powerful. Though excluded from economic progress and largely invisible to the rich world, the poor are very aware of how the rich live. And, with that knowledge, they’re demanding more opportunity for themselves, especially for their children. While Latin America and the Caribbean have improved a lot in recent years, we could lose momentum unless we maintain – and deepen -- our focus on inclusive economic growth.

Full Speech in English