Investing in Knowledge for Development: The Role of Science & Technology in the Fight Against Global Poverty

Lael Brainard
Lael Brainard National Economic Advisor - National Economic Council

April 22, 2005

Introduction: A Central Challenge of Our Time

Development is a central challenge of our time. The demographic trends are crystal clear: the international balance of power, when measured in population, is undergoing a tectonic shift. The developing world is becoming more populous, younger — and more assertive.

Over the next two decades, our planet is expected to absorb an additional 2 billion people—an increase of one third. Developing countries will account for almost all of that increase, swelling the ranks of the developing world to nearly 7 billion—85 percent of the world’s population.

In sharp contrast to the graying rich world, the growing population of the regions making the least economic progress is young, and getting younger. In the Middle East, the share of the population under 14 will increase from 35 percent today to 42 percent in 2025, while in Sub Saharan Africa, the under-14 share will rise from 47 to 50 percent. Here in America, the under-14 share will remain at around 17 percent.