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Big Idea 2014 By Jim Kim: Invest in People 2014.01.01

Washington D.C., USA - December 13, 2013 - One of the great privileges of my job is that I have the opportunity to talk with leaders from throughout the developing world about the most fundamental aspects of their economies. Almost without exception, they ask me about formulas that will help them create business environments that will lead to good-paying jobs. They ask me about other countries that succeeded, and given my connection to South Korea, many ask me about how they achieved their economic "miracle". The roots of the Korean success story are complex but many observers believe that the government's willingness to invest in people, even before many thought they could afford to, was one of the keys. Countries can invest in their people in many ways, such as providing quality health care. In Turkey, for example, health indicators a decade ago ranked behind most other European and middle-income countries.

Photo courtesy Jim Kim / Dominic Chavez / World Bank
 

Washington D.C., USA - December 13, 2013

Jim Kim, President at The World Bank.
Photo courtesy Jim Kim
 
By Jim Kim
President at The World Bank


One of the great privileges of my job is that I have the opportunity to talk with leaders from throughout the developing world about the most fundamental aspects of their economies.

Almost without exception, they ask me about formulas that will help them create business environments that will lead to good-paying jobs.

They ask me about other countries that succeeded, and given my connection to South Korea, many ask me about how they achieved their economic “miracle.”

The roots of the Korean success story are complex but many observers believe that the government’s willingness to invest in people, even before many thought they could afford to, was one of the keys.

Just 10 days ago, I was in South Korea and I was reminded once again about its investment in education.

In 1959, when I was born in Seoul, Korea’s per capita income was roughly $150, and less than 5 percent of the adult population had graduated from college.

Today, Korea’s per capita income is $23,000, and 80 percent of its college-aged young people are in higher education.

Korea’s education system is not perfect – leaders there worry about too many young people going to college and their long hours of studying (law enforcement actually breaks up student study sessions if they go beyond 11 p.m.).

But just after the Korean War, at a time when Korea’s GDP was lower than many sub-Saharan African countries, Korea invested in its young people’s education.

Today, the result is known around the world, especially after Korea recently received the highest overall math score among nations on OECD’s PISA rating system.

Other investments in people – job training, nutrition, health care, to name a few – also result in medium- and long-term benefits.

Each offers solid returns for individuals, their communities and their countries.

Economists use the more impersonal term “human capital;” in basic terms, it means investing in people and their future - as well as our own.

Girls’ education is a great example. In the short- and medium-term, it saves lives.

In fact, about half of the reduction in child deaths globally over the past 40 years is linked to the education of girls – that’s over 4 million lives saved.

Over the long-term, educating girls creates more national wealth.

One study found that countries investing in girls so they all complete the next level of education would lead to lifetime earnings equivalent to 54 percent of annual GDP.

Countries can invest in their people in many ways, such as providing quality health care.

In Turkey, for example, health indicators a decade ago ranked behind most other European and middle-income countries.

Infant and maternal mortality rates were among the highest in the region.

Millions of families were shut out of health coverage, and children and the poor suffered the most.

Turkey’s unhealthy citizens were also harmful to its economic growth.

Just 10 years later, Turkey’s formal health insurance covers more than 95 percent of the population.

Infant mortality dropped more than 40 percent.
In addition, Turkey’s economy grew solidly and created good jobs.

For decades ahead, Turkey’s investment will likely reap dividends; its healthy population means a reduction in health costs and a higher performing workforce.

These kinds of investments in people provide them greater opportunity, dignity and prosperity.

Moreover, giving people a hand up unlocks a vast resource of untapped talent and energy that we need in order to take on the world’s biggest challenges – like ending extreme poverty and fighting climate change.

http://www.linkedin.com/channels/bigideas2014
 
If we invest in people, we will not only spend our public and private resources more wisely, we will also enjoy the fruits of their labor for generations to come.

In Korea, I visited Yonggang Middle School, where groups of students gave English-language presentations on climate change and leadership.

They impressed me so much that I told another audience later – only half in jest – that the World Bank Group could recruit future workers at that middle school.

That’s what happens when countries invest in their people.

It unleashes innovation, which can create miracles.


Source: LinkedIn

http://www.linkedin.com/  



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