Billionaire and former tech mogul Bill Gates predicts there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035.
Almost all nations will be either of lower-middle income or wealthier, and most will have surpassed the 35 countries that are currently defined by the World Bank as low-income, Gates said Tuesday in his annual letter for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the letter, Gates and his wife try to dispel what they say are myths about global poverty that hinder development: Poor countries are destined to stay that way, foreign aid is not helpful and saving lives leads to overpopulation.
The first myth, about poverty-stricken countries staying down, has been negated by the jumps in income of countries around the world, the letter says. Gates points out that since 1960, China's real income per person has gone up eightfold, India's has quadrupled and Brazil's has almost quintupled.
"In the next two decades, desperately poor countries will become the exception rather than the rule," Gates wrote.
He also says that critics of foreign aid tend to cite examples about waste and ignore the overall good that such aid has delivered through goods and services.
As for the notion that saving lives will lead to overpopulation, Melinda Gates writes that countries with high child-mortality rates — such as Afghanistan — have high birth rates as well. Families in nations where children tend to survive to adulthood usually have fewer kids, she said.
The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's largest charitable foundation. It has made $28.3 billion in grant payments since its inception 13 years ago.