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Summers Says Developing Nations Should Educate Girls: Tom Keene

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Developing countries seeking to raise their standards of living should focus on educating girls, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said.

“The most important investment in the developing world” is “educating girls,” Summers said today in a Bloomberg Television interview on “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene from Davos, Switzerland.

Empowering women is “smart economics,” the World Bank said in a report released in September. The study, which looks at the progress of gender equality around the world, says it’s in countries’ economic interest to increase women’s opportunities because that in turn raises productivity and improves children’s futures.

President Barack Obama may nominate Summers to lead the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, two people familiar with the matter said this month. Asked about the World Bank job, Summers said today he was “very happy doing just what I’m doing now, having a chance in independence to participate in the public debates.”

Summers, who has served as World Bank chief economist and president of Harvard University, said that one lesson about development economics is that “huge amounts of development comes from the ground up.” Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Summers also said there is a need for “modern infrastructure which represents large capital investments.”

Rising Standards

“What should give a great deal of encouragement right now is that you see more people see their standards of living rise rapidly over the last decade than any time in human history and that for some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world,” Summers said.

Summers was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council under Obama until last year.

After leaving the Obama administration, Summers, 57, returned to Harvard, where he’s a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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