Summary of The Great Surge

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From the beginning of history, the number of people living in extreme poverty steadily increased. Then, for the first time, the global population of extremely impoverished people – those living on less than $1.25 a day – shrank, plunging from two billion in 1993 to just more than one billion in 2011. This historic achievement coincided with a new embrace of democracy, advances in agricultural productivity, technological innovation, increased trade, reduced childhood mortality, better education, and efforts to address climate change and clean energy in developing and impoverished nations. Georgetown University professor Steven Radelet, author of Emerging Africa, offers an incisive understanding of history as he details the time span since the 1960s from the bottom-up perspectives of the world’s poorest people. getAbstract recommends his invaluable, well-researched report to readers interested in how better social conditions, public institutions, medical advances, technological solutions and political leaders have cut worldwide poverty by half in less than 20 years.

About the Author

Author of Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way, Steven Radelet holds the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at Georgetown University.



Halving Extreme Poverty

The extremely impoverished population of the world grew since the beginning of human history. But from 1993 to 2011, extreme poverty fell by almost half. The global population living in extreme poverty fell from two billion in 1993 to a little more than one billion in 2011 – the first such decline in human history. Progress in China and India accounted for much of the decline, but other developing countries lifted their poorest citizens out of deprivation since the 1990s.

The rapid reduction in extreme poverty – defined as a daily subsistence income of less than $1.25 per person – ranks among the greatest economic accomplishments. Three catalysts drive this “great surge” in global human welfare:

  1. Global conditions – The breakup of the Soviet Union and the demise of communism encouraged a worldwide shift to democracy and capitalism.
  2. New opportunities – International trade and new technologies helped poorer countries progress.
  3. National leadership – Citizens gained from the bold leadership of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Cory Aquino in the Philippines, Oscar Arias...

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