Jim Yong Kim: 'We Can Eradicate Global Poverty In Our Lifetimes'

Economic Growth Isn't Totally Awful

In a subtle rejoinder to his critics, the U.S. nominee for president of the World Bank says that economic growth can help alleviate poverty.

"Economic growth is vital to generate resources for investment in health, education and public goods," writes Jim Yong Kim in an op-ed in Thursday's Financial Times. As World Bank president, Kim says that he would aim to lift the poorest people in the world out of poverty by fostering economic growth in impoverished countries.

"It's clear that we can eradicate global poverty and achieve in our lifetimes what for generations has been a distant dream," he added.

Kim, who's served as president of Dartmouth since 2009, was called out recently for a book he co-edited in 2000 called Dying for Growth, which criticized the West's obsessive emphasis on economic growth and corporate profits. Some economists, (perhaps rankled by Kim's lack of an economics degree?) questioned Kim's qualifications for the job after an NYU blog published excerpts of the book on Monday. Kim had written in the book that "the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men."

In Thursday's op-ed Kim points to his native South Korean. When he was born, the country "was still recovering from war, with unpaved roads and low levels of literacy." South Korea has since focused on economic development and joined the global economy, becoming one of the "most dynamic and prosperous economies in the world."

Kim is the first Asian-American president of an Ivy League university. Before that, he taught at Harvard Medical School.

He co-founded Partners In Health, which has delivered medical treatment to impoverished communities around the world, including in Haiti and Peru. Kim also was director of the World Health Organization's department of HIV/AIDS between 2004 and 2005.

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