When developed economies stopped growing during the 2008–2009 financial crisis but developing economies kept on growing, the world took notice. The rise of the South, seen within the developing world as an overdue global rebalancing, has been much commented on since. This discussion has typically focused narrowly on GDP and trade growth in a few large countries. Yet there are broader dynamics at play, involving many more countries and deeper trends, with potentially far-reaching implications for people’s lives, for social equity and for democratic governance at the local and global levels. As this Report shows, the rise of the South is both the result of continual human development investments and achievements and an opportunity for still greater human progress for the world as a whole. Making that progress a reality will require informed and enlightened global and national policymaking, drawing on the policy lessons analysed in this Report.
The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale. It must be understood in broad human development terms as the story of a dramatic expansion of individual capabilities and sustained human development progress in the countries that are home to the vast majority of the world’s people. When dozens of countries and billions of people move up the development ladder, as they are doing today, it has a direct impact on wealth creation and broader human progress in all countries and regions of the world. There are new opportunities for catch-up for less developed countries and for creative policy initiatives that could benefit the most advanced economies as well.
Although most developing countries have done well, a large number of countries have done particularly well—what can be called the “rise of the South”. Some of the largest countries have made rapid advances, notably Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. But there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.
While focusing on the rise of the South and its implications for human development, the 2013 Human Development Report is also about this changing world, driven in large measure by the rise of the South. It examines the progress being made, the challenges arising (some as a result of that very success) and the opportunities emerging for representative global and regional governance.
For the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world’s three leading economies—Brazil, China and India—is about equal to the combined GDP of the longstanding industrial powers of the North—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. This represents a dramatic rebalancing of global economic power: In 1950, Brazil, China and India together represented only 10% of the world economy, while the six traditional economic leaders of the North accounted for more than half. According to projections in the Report, by 2050, Brazil, China and India will together account for 40% of global output (figure 2), far surpassing the projected combined production of today’s Group of Seven bloc.
The middle class in the South is growing rapidly in size, income and expectations (figure 3). The sheer number of people in the South—the billions of consumers and citizens—multiplies the global human development consequences of actions by governments, companies and international institutions in the South. The South is now emerging alongside the North as a breeding ground for technical innovation and creative entrepreneurship. In North–South trade, the newly industrializing economies have built capabilities to efficiently manufacture complex products for developed country markets. But South–South interactions have enabled companies in the South to adapt and innovate with products and processes that are better suited to local needs.