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Address to the U. N. Economic and Social Council

1972-10-18, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank, reviewed the state of development, and the relationship of economic growth to social equity. First, he summarized recent Bank activities, particularly those which bring the Bank into working relationships with other parts of the U.N. system. Second, he assessed the current state of development in the member countries. Third, he analyzed what he believes to be one of the most critical issues of the entire development process: the relationship of social equity to economic growth. He concluded that the international development community has a grave responsibility to the hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the disadvantaged world for whom these issues are not mere abstractions, but day-to-day realities. He believes, collectively, that touching those lives, and rendering them more livable is possible.

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Address to the Board of Governors, September 25, 1972

1972-09-25, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank, reported on the Bank’s operations in fiscal year 1972 and reviewed the progress of the Five-Year Program for 1969–73. He assessed the current state of development in member countries and outlined the program for the five years 1974–78. He explored the central issue of the relationship of social equity to economic growth. Given the shortfall in official development assistance, the debt problem, and the procrastination of the developed countries in dismantling discriminatory trade barriers, the Second Development Decade’s 6 percent growth target is not going to be met by many nations. The most persistent poverty is that of the low-income strata, roughly the poorest 40 percent of the total population in all development countries—who are trapped in conditions of deprivation. He argues that an urgent task is to reorient development policies to directly attack the poverty of the most deprived 40 percent of the population. Governments must achieve this without abandoning their goals of overall economic growth. Greater priority is needed to establish growth targets in terms of essential humans needs: nutrition, housing, health, literacy and employment, even at the cost of some reduction in the pace of advance in certain narrow and highly privileged sectors whose benefits accrue to the few.