Equally, less than half the global population have access to essential health services, whilst literacy rates in some of the poorest developing nations remain stubbornly low, at below thirty per cent in Burkina Faso, Niger, and South Sudan.
Addressing such profound and entrenched challenges is a daunting prospect. It requires the leaders of developing nations to commit to improving the so-called lived experience of their citizens, despite often limited financial, infrastructural, and administrative capacity. Whilst there is evidently no panacea, this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index highlights how nations have been able to catalyse the latent socio-economic potential of their populations by addressing two key pillars: healthcare and education.
Healthy populations are key to functioning societies. Though life expectancy has increased in every nation and region of the world since 1960, there remains a significant disparity between developed nations and their developing counterparts. Men and women in the world’s most developed nations can expect to reach the age of seventy- six and eighty-two respectively, compared to sixty-three and sixty-six in least developed nations. Moreover, developing nations experience as much as ninety per cent of the global burden of disease, while accounting for only twelve per cent of global spending on health.
Similarly, education has long been considered an unrivalled catalyst for effective national socio-economic development. High levels of literacy and numeracy amongst the labour force are essential prerequisites for the long-term diversification and sophistication of national economies. However, equally important is the transformative effect of education on the lived experience of individuals. Those who are educated tend to earn considerably more over the course of their lives and enjoy notably higher living standards and longer life expectancy than those who are not.