Bill and Melinda Gates: Debunking Myths Around Global Poverty

I’ve got a little quiz for you today. Answer true or false to the following statements:

  1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
  2. Foreign aid is a big waste.
  3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

If you answered false to all three, you are correct! If you answered true, don’t worry. You are not alone. But after reading this post, I hope you will change any misconceptions you might have about helping those in poverty around the globe.


Bill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter and they are debunking the three myths mentioned above because misconceptions such as these often give people an excuse not to act.

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

In fact, life is better for more people around the world than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives and poverty rates have been cut in half in the last 25 years. Child mortality is plunging. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. Bill and Melinda want to tackle these myths because too often they give people a reason not to act.

So let’s take a loot at these myths.

Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. In fact, many of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed and many more are on their way. Progress in health and income and foreign aid has helped a lot. The percentage of “very poor people” has actually dropped by more than half since 1990. Bill Gates explains in this short video. He also predicts there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035.

Foreign aid is a big waste. I hear a lot of people complaining about the amount of money the United States gives to other countries in foreign aid. In fact, less than 1% of the American budget is allotted for foreign aid, which is about $30 for every American. Foreign aid actually helps countries find the kind of economic and health progress explained in #1. This progress, of course, help countries to become less dependent on aid. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains more in this short video.

Saving lives leads to overpopulation. People have worried about overpopulation for centuries. If we save everyone, then how will we have enough food and resources to go around? It has actually been found that the countries with the most deaths are also the fastest-growing populations. This happens when girls are married off young, when couples have several children because they know some will inevitably die, and when there is lack of education around or access to contraception. Ending overpopulation actually starts with saving the poorest children, as Professor Hans Rosling explains in this short video.

I encourage you to take some time and read through the letter from Bill and Melinda Gates. While I pulled out some of the highlights, there is much more information included in the letter, and it may will open your eyes to several global issues. It’s a great read.

You can help #stopthemyth

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls. 


Inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter, I decided to donate to Save the Children this month, specifically to their Syrian Children’s Relief Fund. Save the Children is a partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a partner of mine as well. My donation will provide a set of winter clothes to protect a child from the cold. You can read more about their work here.

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.

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  1. I love how you debunked these myths here today and must say I hope and pray that 2035 isn’t underestimate, because it would be really wonderful to see all have some form of wealth and definitely much less poverty by that point. Thanks for sharing and will have to take a better look at the videos now, too.
    Janine Huldie recently posted..Keeping Warm in The Polar Vortex with Knit Leg WarmersMy Profile

  2. Good for you! What an excellent choice for this month! :) I love that you are sharing their message here today, because people definitely need to know that in order for the US to thrive, the world needs to thrive, too. :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Would You Rather: Gain 50 Pounds Or Have To Pay $5,000?My Profile

  3. It’s hard for me to comprehend that many people would answer “true” to those statements! We just gave my father-in-law a flock of geese for his birthday through the Heifer Project. Giving to a non-profit once a month is a good goal!
    Ginny Marie recently posted..Your Spin Cycle Prompt {week of 1/27}My Profile

  4. This is fascinating Jen. I just LOVE all that Bill Gates and his lovely wife are doing- and these myths are beautifully explained and debunked here.

    This is significant stuff. We all must take the time and invest in our world- and the people that we share it with.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Devotional Diary: Your Pain Is A Beautiful ReminderMy Profile

  5. I love your philanthropic take on mythbusters! It’s crazy to think that U.S. foreign aid equates to $30 per person. If we all wrote a check for $30 from our own accounts, think of the difference we could make!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..State of the RunionMy Profile

  6. What great information! Those videos were fascinating — thank you for sharing them with us! It is amazing the effect we can have on the world around us with foreign aid.
    Michelle recently posted..Money Saving Tips for College: How to Save on Textbook CostsMy Profile

  7. Where do you sign up for their newsletter?
    Ashlee recently posted..My Love/Hate Relationship With Nashville WeatherMy Profile

  8. What a great post Jennifer! I will find the time to read that report! Thanks for all you do to spread the good!!
    Alexa recently posted..Gluten Free Blueberry Coffee CakeMy Profile

  9. I answered False to all! Can’t imagine that people wouldn’t?
    It always astonishes me how much we can all help if we take the pledge, but also how misinformed we can be.
    Tamara recently posted..The Happiest Place On Earth.My Profile

  10. I was truly shocked to read that people would consider “. If we save everyone, then how will we have enough food and resources to go around?” I just can’t imagine people thinking that way about people
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  11. I can’t imagine how anyone would think that saving lives would lead to overpopulation. Thanks for summarizing the Gates’ letter, Jennifer – I will definitely read it in its entirety soon.
    Dana recently posted..Hide the mess, company’s coming!My Profile

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