Courtesy Reuters

The Development Decade in the Balance

"Hope," said Sir Francis Bacon, "is a good breakfast but it is a poor supper." The 1960s began with hope for the economically underdeveloped countries, but it is becoming uncertain how they will end. Unless the Development Decade, as President Kennedy christened it, receives greater sustenance, it may, in fact, recede into history as a decade of disappointment. The amount of finance moving from the developed to the underdeveloped world is not rising; and the present trend is for the growth of the low-income countries slowly to lose momentum.

Almost two-thirds of the world's population live in underdeveloped countries; but they have only one-sixth of the world's income. The condition of mankind can be outlined quickly with a few brutal statistics. Defining countries with a per capita income of under $100 as very poor, those with a per capita income of from $100 to $250 as poor, those with a per capita income between $250 and $750 as being of middle income, and those with a per capita income of more than $750 as the high-income countries, here is how the world's people are distributed:[i]

Very Poor 990 million Middle-Income 390 million Poor 1,150 million High-Income 810 million

Just how poor the approximately two-thirds of the world in the Very Poor and Poor Countries are is illustrated by comparing their per capita income of less than $250 with the average per capita income of $1,400 in the Common Market countries (population: 175 million), and the United States' (population: 194 million) per capita income of about $3,000.

The underdeveloped countries are seeking to enter the twentieth century, but many of them, in some respects, have not yet reached the nineteenth. Many still need to achieve the preconditions of industrialization, including stable government, an acquisitive outlook and technical capacity. The price of admission to industrial society, moreover, is much higher than it was a century ago. Technology is costlier, capital requirements are greater, established producers are harder to overtake in world commercial competition.

The aim of the Development Decade is for the underdeveloped countries, as a group,

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