The emerging world was poor and illiterate just forty years ago. Today, over 70 per cent of the global middle class resides in the erstwhile poor countries. Much more than is commonly realised, Surjit Bhalla argues that the spread of mass education lies behind this rapid progress. Bhalla’s recently released book The New Wealth of Nations argues that global “education wealth”, at US$ 330 trillion, now exceeds financial wealth at US$250 trillion, as poor countries for the first time begin to match the education levels achieved by the west. This rapid increase has significant consequences, from reducing global inflation and transforming the role of women to a substantial change in the profile and structure of political elites, as a new middle class vies with the traditional upper strata for power and influence.
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