Is Industrialization the Cure for Poverty?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is traditionally the time to feel gratitude for what we have, and to give to those who don’t have as much as we do. But giving food to people living in poverty, though it’s clearly a good thing to do, doesn’t solve the problem of poverty.

Maybe industrialization does. Patrick Allit of Emory University thinks so:

The only way out of mass poverty is industrialization. Every rich country is industrial. All the poorest ones are not… In India, life expectancy in 1960 was just a little over 42 years. Today it’s 66. The figures for China are even more dramatic, with life expectancy increasing in those years from 36 to nearly 76. Both countries have been industrializing rapidly, and there’s a close cause-and-effect relationship between more productivity and longer life.

Industrial automation is often identified with job loss, with harsh working conditions, and with pollution. In fact, automation is green, it makes for safer working conditions, and it makes life easier and more comfortable. If it also reduces poverty at its root, rather than just providing a nice meal one day a year, then automation should be one of the things for which we express thanks this year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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