This paper was prepared for the ECES conference on “Employment, Productivity and Poverty in Egypt,” held in Cairo on June 26, 2007. It was specifically designed to emphasize international dimensions of the subject. It looks beyond contemporary Egypt, addresses issues of economic globalization, and refers to pertinent historical experience. The paper starts out by mapping important global and regional characteristics and trends of poverty. It proceeds by focusing on employment and productivity as major determinants of poverty, and analyzes inter-linkages between these factors and economic growth. Furthermore, policies and institutions, both national and international ones, are examined that need to be put in place in order to promote employment, productivity and the alleviation of poverty.