Which countries are leading global economic growth?

Hint: look south.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Want a look at the future of global economic growth? Look no further than Africa, Asia, and Latin America (and not just BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

That's the takeaway from the United Nations' 2013 Human Development Index, which documents the rise of the Global South and the global middle class -- both in terms of economic and non-economic factors such as education and life expectancy.

The latest report found that every nation -- which has data available -- has scored higher on the UN's Human Development Index in 2012 than in 2000. The index uses data on everything from health, education, and income to develop a composite measurement of development.

And since 1990, more than 40 countries in the Global South have seen significant gains in their HDI score.

“The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale,” the report says. "Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast."

“The South as a whole is driving global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries.”

According to the report, these increased human development gains can be attributed to sustained investment in education, healthcare and social programs, and open engagement with other countries.

Here are some specific examples:

  • By 2020, the report projects that China, India, and Brazil will have a larger economic output than the combined output of United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.
  • Worldwide, the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 43 percent in 1990 to 22 in 2008.
  • World merchandise trade doubled in developing countries from 25 percent to 47 percent between 1980 and 2010.

Of course, as with the North, the South will have to find solutions to major global issues, such as an aging population, environmental pressures, social inequalities, in order to continue to make gains in human development.

Read the full report here.

Photo: Flickr/lrargerich

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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