The Poorest Getting Poorer

Globalization -- the free movement of goods, money, people and information -- has offered great opportunities to people in industrialized countries, but it has marginalized many more in the developing world. With global communications playing a growing role, poor countries are likely to fall further behind, the annual U.N. Human Development Report predicts.

In 1985, the average income per person in the richest country was 76 times as much as that in the poorest; in 1997, it was 288 times.

Of the 34 countries the United Nations ranks lowest in terms of human development, taking into account income, life expectancy and education, 29 are in Africa.

The poorest 10 nations of 174 reviewed: (based on personal income measured in gross national product per person)

Congo

1997 $97

1985 225

Sierra Leone

1997 159

1985 227

Burundi

1997 162

1985 219

Malawi

1997 166

1985 159

Ethiopia

1997 171

1985 139

Madagascar

1997 209

1985 246

Chad

1997 211

1985 226

Bangladesh

1997 218

1985 278

Nepal

1997 219

1985 165

Rwanda

1997 222

1985 341

The richest: (based on personal income)

1. Luxembourg

1997 $28,010

1985 17,133

7. U.S.

1997 21,541

1985 18,000

The richest 20 percent of nations produce 86

percent of the world's goods and services (GDP);

the poorest 20 percent produce 1 percent.

richest 20% 86%

middle 60% 13

poorest 20% 1

Share of exports of goods and services:

richest 20% 82%

middle 60% 17

poorest 20% 1

SOURCE: U.N. Human Development Report