The Cycle of Prosperity

Image credit: 
YouTube / Gates Foundation

Throughout the world, we see examples of both "vicious" and "virtuous" cycles. In each, events in the cycle tend to reinforce the previous cycle, driving an outcome that is either profoundly negative (vicious) or positive (virtuous).

We see this all the time in our daily lives. If you own a home, you've likely seen one or both of these in action; when housing prices go down, homeowners can end up owing more on their house than it's worth, leading them to default on their loan...and further driving down home prices, causing the effect to ripple throughout the neighborhood. But when home prices go up, the opposite effect can occur—rising home prices enrich homeowners, and you end up with a prosperous neighborhood. (Of course, this can also lead homebuyers to be priced out of a neighborhood; but the idea is that they buy in the next neighborhood over and start their own virtuous cycle there.)

In the video below, we learn a simple concept: prosperity is a virtuous cycle. Whereas poverty is a classic vicious cycle, its inverse—prosperity—is virtuous. What's more, providing access to family planning kickstarts this virtuous cycle. By enabling family planning, the cycle leads to prosperity not just for families, but for nations. Here's a short video explaining how it works:

For more on this, check out 5 Ways to Save Newborns' Lives.

May 23, 2014 - 8:00am
The Gates Foundation believes all lives have equal value. Do you? Sign up to receive weekly updates from our blog, Impatient Optimists.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. We believe that tremendous progress is happening, but there are still great inequities we’re impatient to see addressed. It’s why we named our blog, Impatient Optimists. Our work is challenging, but we know we can get there. We cannot succeed alone, however. We need your help. If you’re into big thinking and big ideas to solve the world's biggest challenges (and we assume you are if you're reading Mental Floss), visit Impatient Optimists and become a part of the Gates Foundation community.
submit to reddit