As you are aware, our mission statement at DWS is “Doing good for you, so you can do good for others.” I think it’s important that we focus on the places we can make a difference and be a part of the changes we want to see in the world (borrowed from Mahatma Gandhi).
Having said that, I think it is also important to look back and realize the success that has been achieved by those who went before us. What is most amazing is the success in building “health and wealth” in the world since 1970. There were two pieces of information that reinforced these successes in my life recently and I wanted to share them with you.
The first was a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. If you want to look it up on www.nber.org, it is paper 15433 published in October 2009 by Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin. The most fascinating information from the paper was the fact that the world poverty rate fell by 80% from 26.8% in 1970 to 5.4% in 2006.
The second piece, I would encourage you to watch. It is Han’s Rosling’s 200 Years, 200 Countries, 4 minutes. This was produced by BBC in 2010 and shows, with great visual appeal, the increase of “health and wealth” around the globe. Pay particular attention around 1970 and watch how the majority of the global economies come together.
What has happened since 1970 to affect this kind of change? From my observation, this change comes down to three things: globalization, technology and capitalism. The world has gotten smaller over the last 40 years thanks to technology, and that has allowed the ideas of capitalism to spread. As capitalism has spread, so have the opportunities for others to improve their situation. As global wealth has increased we have also turned our attention back to our fellow man and looked for means to help lift each other up. As I have heard said before, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Who knows what the next 40 years have in store, but as technology speeds up, the world shrinks and capitalism spreads, we know that our responsibility will grow as well. There has never been a better time to focus on others!