Billionaire philanthropist and the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates finds the term ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries to be meaningless, but continued to use them in public until now, due to lack of an alternative. “Any categorization that lumps together China and the Democratic Republic of Congo is too broad to be useful. But I’ve continued to use “developed” and “developing” in public (and on this blog) because there wasn’t a more accurate, easily understandable alternative—until now,” Bill Gates said.
However, now he seems to have found an alternative. In his recent blog, the second richest man on the planet, shared a new framework to think about the world. Inspired by Hans Rosling’s latest book– ‘Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think’, Gates said that people can be divided into four income groups of Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. Gates notes that the largest number of people live in Level 2.
“One billion people live on level 1. This is what we think of as extreme poverty. If you’re on level 1, you survive on less than $2 a day and get around by walking barefoot,” said Gates, adding few more attributes, such as the people in the group probably cook their food using fire, and sleep on the floor.
According to Gates this framework helps to capture the nuances of progress in the world more succinctly. “It’s hard to pick up on progress if you divide the world into rich countries and poor countries. When those are the only two options, you’re more likely to think anyone who doesn’t have a certain quality of life is “poor,” observed Gates.
Sharing more insights from the book about the various levels, the author compares the instinct to label a quality of life below as certain level to ‘poor’ akin to standing on top of a skyscraper and looking down at a city. “All of the other buildings will look short to you whether they’re ten stories or 50 stories high. It’s the same with income. Life is significantly better for those on level 2 than level 1, but it’s hard to see that from level 4 unless you know to look for it,” Gates writes the author as saying in the book.
Gates noted that the four levels are just one of many insights in Factfulness that will help you better understand the world.