Does globalization lead to greater equality in the world, or does it tend to heighten existing inequalities and lead to increased disparities between rich and poor in society? This topical issue was addressed by speakers at the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics, held at the World Bank on May 1-2.
In his opening remarks, World Bank President James Wolfensohn articulated this theme, stressing that “poverty is represented not just by dollars, but by social justice, opportunity, and safety.” In this climate, he said, it is essential to listen to the voices of the poor.
Noting that in the next 25 years the population of developing countries will increase by another two billion, Wolfensohn said that rising inequality represents a clear and immediate challenge to policymakers. Globalization is not a static consideration, he said, but a force that has been developing steadily over the years. In this environment, it is essential for the World Bank not to be making decisions solely on impressions formed in Washington, but to be operating actively in the countries and regions.