Rich & Poor
Prepared by Kevin J. Benoy
|"Less is not more. More is more"|
Prescribed Learning Outcomes: Social Studies 11 IRP
Just as our standards of living vary enormously within Canada, there are huge differences in average standards of living between countries. Inequality between nations is the product of numerous factors. It is generated by economic, political and social forces that may be changeable, or in other cases may not.
Analysts have found it convenient to categorize nations, labeling them according to categories. While these designations are arbitrary, they are used regularly in the media, so it is important to understand them.
The terms First World, Second World, Third World, and even Fourth World appear regularly in publications and in television and film. These terms were especially popular in the 1970's and 1980's, prior to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. These designations refer to the kind of economy that a particular country has.
A First World country is one of the world's developed industrial nations. Such countries have capitalist (free enterprise) economies and are, in terms of per-capita incomes,
quite wealthy when compared to other nations. Canada, Japan and Germany are all countries within this category. These countries are democratic in nature and programmes tend to be in place to assist the less fortunate who live in these societies. Inequalities certainly exist within these nations and they can be quite significant. Living conditions on native reserves in northern Manitoba stand in stark contrast to those of residents of Shaughnessy or West Vancouver's British Properties. National averages do indicate significant wealth, however.
A Second World country is one with a centrally planned economy. In practical terms, this has meant that such a country has a communist government. Such countries may or may not be industrialized, but, since Communism is an ideology with its origins in the industrial revolution, the goal of such nations is to develop industry. Control of business rests firmly in the hands of government, however. Government planners set production targets and enterprises of all kinds have to respond to these demands. Without competition, wages and prices are set by government. Services are also under government control. The official bias of communism is toward the working class, so providing education and health services is usually a priority. In practice, the lack of competition and the unresponsiveness of top-heavy bureaucracies has resulted in economies that do not respond well to change, poor quality control as producers rush to meet targets at the expense of quality, and work forces that lack motivation because job security is strong and there is little motivation to work better or harder because there are few rewards for doing so.
The term Third World is still commonly used. In its broadest use, it refers to countries that are not in the rich, industrialized, First World or in the centrally-planned Second World category. Such countries look to improve their situation and in the past were lured by the development models of the First and Second Worlds. The collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and in its eastern European satellite nations dramatically lessened the appeal of central planning, though the Second World's stated goal of equality within societies still is appealing to the poor of many Third World nations. Inequality in Third World societies is staggering. Parts of these societies live as well as or better than the rich of the First World; others live in dismally squalid and unhealthy conditions.
Many Third World countries have the potential to improve their lot because of their strategic position, their resource base, or their ability to exploit other natural advantages. Other Third World countries lack advantages and have little chance of improvement. For this reason, some observers feel another category is needed. The term Fourth World is applied to these, the world's poorest nations. In such nations poverty is widespread and there are few in the middle class.
|1.||Define the four "worlds". What are the main characteristics of each?|
|2.||Which "world" do you live in? Is it possible that some people in your own country live in conditions more like those in other "worlds"? Explain.|
|3.||Why is the term 2nd World heard less now than before the 1990's?|
|4.||Why do some people feel a need to separate some 3rd World countries into an entirely new category, the 4th World?|
North and South
At the most simple level, some observers simply classify countries as rich and poor. Many note that the rich, developed, countries are concentrated primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. "The North" is used to refer to these fortunate nations - even if they are located in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia and New Zealand find themselves classified within this category along with the more accurately named Northern nations of Japan, the United States and France. "The South" therefore describes the poorer, less developed nations - even when they are located in very northern latitudes - like Mongolia. These terms were popularized in 1980, when Willy Brandt headed the Independent Commission on International Development Issues and published North-South: A Programme for Survival. The report made a plea for aid to poor countries, arguing that it was not only morally right to do so, but necessary for the well-being of the whole planet.
While North and South are broad, and sometimes misleading, terms, they are very widely used. Because these terms paint rather broad brush strokes in black and white, they are often used in arguments supporting the disadvantaged in their drive for a more equal distribution of the world's wealth.
|1.||What is the origin of the terms North and South as they relate to levels of national development?|
|2.||Are most of the world's people located in the North or the South? Explain.|
|3.||Other than Canada, name three other countries considered part of the North.|
|4.||Why is Australia considered part of the North despite its southerly location?|
Levels of Development
More common and more useful economic descriptions describe countries in terms of their level of development. Developed countries are those with industrial or post-industrial economies. They dominate world trade and possess much of the world's wealth. These countries are at the heart of the world's organizational systems. Within them are located the world's key stock exchanges and most important banks. The world's largest corporations also have their headquarters in these countries, even those with extensive holdings in other parts of the world. Wealth translates into political influence. These countries dominate the globe.
Developing Countries or Less Developed Countries seek to emulate the successes of the developed world, but have done so in widely varying degrees. Some countries have even made the transition from developing to developed. Singapore is such an example. Others, like Malaysia, are making great progress. To succeed requires integration in a global economy where the rules are set in the developed lands. The more economically successful nations of the world understand this. However, following the developed world's lead has a cost in terms of culture and economic independence. These are costs that all nations are not willing to pay.
Countries that are making the leap from developing to developed are sometimes lumped together under the category Newly Industrialized Countries. Since many of these countries - like South Korea and Taiwan - are located in Asia, they are sometimes referred to as Young or New Dragons.
At the bottom of the heap are the Least Less Developed Countries or LLDC's. These are the Fourth World countries that were mentioned earlier. Economic progress is difficult or impossible because of built-in disadvantages. Some, like Mauritania, lack useful resources. Others, like Bhutan and Chad, are inland and isolated from inexpensive trade routs. Yet others, like Sierra Leone and Somalia, have experienced such devastating social and political breakdowns, that they are currently unable to help themselves.
|1.||What are the characteristics of Developed, Less Developed, and Least Less Developed Countries?|
|2.||Create a table or a diagram showing how these three terms relate to the following terms: North and South, 1st, 3rd and 4th Worlds.|
|3.||Why do developing countries wish to become developed?|
|4.||What consequences would their development have on global resource use and pollution? What impact might it have on population growth? Explain.|
How We Compare the Living Standards of Nations
Observers find it very difficult to compare living standards from one country to another. Needs and Wants are quite relative and depend on widely different social and cultural norms. Climate also plays a role. What passes as quite comfortable housing in tropical Fiji or Thailand, would be unlivable in colder climate countries like Poland and
Mongolia, where heating is a necessity. Dietary norms also differ enormously as do the sources of nutrients consumed. In some places foods are readily available, whereas in others, they must be imported. Clean water is available in some places and virtually unavailable in others. How, then, is it possible to compare countries?
The simplest point of comparison is to look at income levels. This does not measure happiness or levels of health or literacy. Looking at huge general figures like Gross National Product or Gross Domestic Product can also be hugely misleading in countries where there are great differences between rich and poor. Some residents of Saudi Arabia live in abject poverty, while others have unimaginable wealth. Average figures paper over these differences. In addition, costs of basic products vary enormously from place to place. Decent housing may cost only a few dollars a month in Kampala, Uganda, but to secure a similar level of comfort in New York's Manhattan borough will cost thousands of dollars a month. A nutritious meal costs only a dollar or so in Jakarta, Indonesia, but would cost five or more times as much in a developed nation. Changing exchange rates can also skew any comparison. If the value of South Korea's currency, the Won, drops by one third because of currency speculation in the international money markets, this does not mean that people have to reduce their quality of housing and food by this amount. There must be a better way to compare.
Economists understand these problems and they adjust GNP or GDP figures according to formulas that enable more meaningful comparisons. The most effective corrective measure is to compare figures according to Purchasing Power Parity. A basket of necessary goods are compared from nation to nation according to what can be bought in local currencies in a given place. This is then used to compare the value of currencies. For instance, $10 Canadian will by a certain amount of needed goods in Vancouver, but the equivalent of $10 Canadian in Chinese Yuan will buy far more. Economists compare the two and revalue the Yuan upward before stating GNP or GDP per capita figures for China.
An interesting way of calculating Purchasing Power Parity is used in the Economist Magazine's yearly comparison of countries. Since a Macdonalds' Big Mac has the same ingredients around the globe, it is very like the basket of goods described above. The Economist therefore says that one can look at the cost of this burger in each country and can revalue currencies upward or downward based on this comparison. Since a Big Mac costs less in Canada than in the United States, our currency is really valued too low.
An average is taken of all burger costs (in US dollars), then local costs are compared with this average; in the year 2000 survey, published on April 29 of that year, the average cost was $2.51 US. The most extreme undervaluation was Malaysia. A Big Mac cost only $1.19 US there -53% less than the average; in overvalued currencies Israel topped the list, with the same burger costing $3.58 US, a +43% difference. A Big Mac costs more in Japan than in the USA. Japan's currency is therefore over-valued. Comparing this and other measures to arrive at purchasing power parity, economists have noted that
the burger index seems as accurate as any other measure and is more accurate than some. The magazine notes that "some readers beef that our Big Mac index does not cut the mustard." On the other hand, the index has had some notable successes in not only accurately reflecting the cost of living in countries, but also in forecasting future changes in exchange rates. McParity is a sound measure. The Economist survey concludes that "most emerging-market currencies are undervalued against the dollar on a Big Mac PPP basis."
Income alone is not the only measure of the quality of life, though few would dispute that money certainly can buy the necessities of life and, perhaps, a little happiness too. In the late 1970's, M. D. Morris decided to quantify other indicators of life.
Morris' Physical Quality of Life Index also quantified such indicators as life expectancy, infant mortality and literacy. Combined with income levels, Morris felt that his measures provide a more complete means of comparing countries. Morris was concerned that cash measures are sometimes completely disconnected to living standards, especially in economies based on subsistence agriculture. After all, much of the world lives on $1 a day or less. Surprisingly, many of these do not lead miserable lives. Morris employed data over three decades and he noted that life was improving in much of the world, for people who conventional wisdom saw as falling farther and farther behind the developed world. Rising PQLI scores in these countries contrast with GNP figures that show little or no improvement. Furthermore, some Mideast oil producing countries were found to have high incomes but low PQLI scores.
Richard Estes, of the University of Pennsylvania, sought to quantify social progress. His International Index of Social Progress (ISP) and Weighted Index of Social Progress (WISP) have also been employed by analysts since the 1970's. His are extremely detailed measures, which compares countries on the basis of 46 different indicators for each nation. Estes used such exhaustive measures because he believes that other indexes tended to overvalue economic measures and undervalue people's satisfaction. Many other measures of quality of life have also been devised. Comparisons today are still not perfect, but are vastly improved over the highly simplistic measures of the past.
The most frequently cited comparison of countries is the United Nations' Human Development Index. HDI figures are regularly quoted in the popular media. Canadians have been particularly impressed with
this measure because it regularly rates Canada the best nation in the world to live in. HDI indicators are less complex than those employed by Richard Estes, focusing largely on economic measures and measures that are determined largely by economic well-being. The Human Development Index compares countries in terms of: life expectancy, adult illiteracy, school enrollment and gross domestic product per person (at purchasing power parity).
Life expectancy figures reflect a number of factors. These include: health care, occupational safety and societal violence. The differences between nations can be quite startling, but also quite revealing. This is true between nations, but also reveals significant changes within countries over time. The breakdown of communist structures in the former Soviet Union has led to decreased life expectancy there. In Sierra Leone, continued civil strife has led to a life expectancy or a mere 37.2 years, as compared to 46.5 across the border in neighbouring Guinea.
Literacy is a skill that allows people to control their own lives. The increase in literacy around the world has been a key factor in levering power away from elites. A literate person can find and use information and therefore make decisions. Literacy levels differ widely from place to place, internationally and within countries. Furthermore, gender differences may be large - which clearly reflects gender power differences.
School enrollment identifies the ratio of youth enrolled in education at all levels. The greater the proportion of the population that receives higher levels of education, the greater the economic well-being of the population. Like literacy, education provides empowerment.
The final key measure used by the United Nations is real GDP per person - as calculated at purchasing power parity. Money provides the necessities of life. Though it does not necessarily buy happiness, it can eliminate many of the conditions that bring misery.
In addition to the Human Development Index, the UN also notes a number of other measures of development. These are intended to address a number of concerns expressed by Estes and others, who note the heavy reliance on economic and economy-related measures of the HDI. In the Human Poverty Index, the UN quantifies deprivation. HPI-1 numbers measure factors leading to misery - things like: adult illiteracy, lack of access to clean water, health services, sanitation, underweight children, unequal distribution of wealth, and population below the poverty line. HPI-2; figures examine developed countries. These are similar, but not identical to the measures used in developing countries, since poverty is relative and the Developed World's poor might well be considered comfortably off were they living in the poorer parts of the world.
Noting huge discrepancies between genders in some nations, the UN also publishes the Gender Development Index GDI as part of its annual Human Development Report. This measure examines inequalities in achievements between genders. In addition, the Gender Empowerment
Measure GEM looks at the active participation of both genders in the economy and decision-making. Critics of the United Nations measurements sometimes note that all figures are supplied by national governments and that they are not always reliable. They also note that the UN is a political organization that has particular agendas that it wishes to push. The first criticism is unavoidable - figures may be suspect, but they are all that we have.The second criticism has merit, but, once again, political agendas are inevitable and the UN has responded to suggestions for improvement in the annual report and it has evolved and will continue to evolve over the years. Most would agree that the most recent, 1999 report is better than its predecessors from the early 1990's.
|1.||What are needs and wants and why do they differ from one part of the world to another?|
|2.||Define Gross National Product.Why is it a poor means of comparing countries when considered on its own?|
|3.||What is Purchasing Power Parity and how does its use help make per capita Gross National Product comparisons more useful?|
|4.||What is the Big Mac Index and is it a helpful measure?|
|5.||What was the Physical Quality of Life Index and what was it used for?|
|6.||How does Richard Estes compare nations? How does his index differ from the others that you have encountered?|
|7.||What is the most frequently cited index comparing nations? What measures does it use? What other sub-indexes are also published by the United Nations?|
|8.||Why do some critics not trust the Human Development Index?|
A significant barrier to development is official corruption. In countries where official salaries are very low, the practice of accepting tips is easily extended to significant bribes. Many businessmen and aid officials are well aware of the skimming of funds that takes place at the hands of company and government agents. Costs spiral as small and large bribes are added to official costs.
In the developed world tipping is also an established practice. We simply assume that a tip is required in a restaurant - unless we are in Australia; we understand that taxi drivers expect a little more than their fare. We do not assume that tips are expected by the clerk who issues our drivers' license or by the television repairman. These people may well expect baksheesh (tips) in other countries, however. In many countries business permits or telephone hook-ups simply do not happen without sums of unofficial money changing hands. When crossing the border from Jordan into Syria in 1980, the author was faced with the choice of waiting six or seven hours to cross the border or using the services of a young local who, for about US$1.00 in baksheesh and an additional $1.00 for the border official, managed to get him on his way in about 30 minutes. These are small sums; winning large government contracts in many countries costs substantially more as many officials require payment to speed up bureaucratic procedures.
Perhaps the worst example of official corruption is seen in the career of former President Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). While leading his country, where incomes were among the lowest in the world, he amassed an enormous personal fortune - some estimate at anywhere from US$4 billion. Mobuto maintained a number of residences in Zaire, including a palace that contained a private zoo. In Europe, he maintained luxurious residences in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland. The last to be close to his numbered Swiss bank accounts. Mobuto was deposed by a popular uprising in the late 1990's, but the new regime of Laurent Kabila has not delivered the freedom and democracy it promised.
Kleptocratic (based on theft) governments are not limited to Africa. In the 1980's a popular uprising also toppled the government of Ferdinand Marcos, in the Philippines. Marcos and his family and friends became exceptionally wealthy through their control of the nation - as did the inner circle of President Suharto of Indonesia, who was removed from office in the late 1990's. Today, in Russia, huge fortunes are being amassed by businessmen and government officials through very shady practices. Corruption knows no national or racial boundaries. However, economic stability, democratic governments, free media and respect for the rule of law tend to be strong barriers to corruption's spread. In much of the developing world these elements are missing or weak. However, strengthening any of them brings improvement.
Steve Negus, in "A Sweetheart Economy," in The Cairo Times, noted that in Egypt bureaucrats took around 5 billion Egyptian Pounds per year in bribes - about $2.1 billion Canadian. Egypt is bad, but other countries are worse in this regard. So significant is this problem that an international organization was formed to combat corruption, Transparency International . By surveying countries in these areas and reporting their findings, they bring corrupt practices out into the open while encouraging national governments to improve their ratings.
In the Transparency International Bribe Payers Index 19 leading exporting countries are scored from 1 to 10, with 10 being completely free of corruption, and 0 indicating total corruption. The information is based on interviews with private sector leaders who indicate where their companies are paying bribes abroad. All of the countries noted are considered developed or are very near so. Many developing countries would rank much lower.
|17||Taiwan (Republic of China)||3.5|
In another, larger survey, the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index also ranks countries on the same 10 point scale.This time public officials and politicians are asked about their perceptions of their own country. The 1999 index ranks 99 countries, based on 17 surveys by 10 institutions. A selection of these findings are given below
Transparency International now has 77 national organizations in place, bringing corrupt practices to the public's attention. Transparency International believes that corrupt practices can be stopped. It is in the interests of developing countries to do so as it makes them more attractive to foreign investors and more profitable for domestic business.
|1.||What is baksheesh?|
|2.||What is the difference between a tip and a bribe?|
|3.||How is corruption a barrier to development?|
|4.||According to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, which are the six least corrupt countries?Which are the six most corrupt?|
|5.||What can be done to reduce or eliminate corruption?|
A Healthy Future?
Health standards, like wages, vary enormously within countries and around the world. Diseases are present everywhere, illness is a part of the human condition.While most developed countries have established health care provision as a part of their social welfare systems (the USA is a notable exception to this rule), the provision of health care in most of the developing world is a private matter.
Ill health is linked strongly to standards of living. The wealthy are better educated, enjoy better sanitation and can afford treatment when they need it. The poor are not so fortunate. Even where universal health care is provided by the state, the poor still do not fare as well as those in higher income brackets. In the developing world conditions are infinitely worse in that even primary care must be paid for. This is one of the most significant reasons for life expectancies being lower in developing countries. The World Health Organization's 2000 report notes:
Many countries are falling short of their potential and most are making inadequate efforts in terms of responsiveness and fairness of financial contributions... These failings result in a very large numbers of preventable deaths and disabilities in each country; in unnecessary suffering; in injustice, inequality and the denial of basic rights of individuals. The impact is most severe on the poor, who are driven deeper into poverty by lack of financial protection against ill health. In trying to buy health from their own pockets, sometimes they only succeed in lining the pockets of others.
When a patient is admitted into the hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, a family member also enters the hospital, to cook and clean for the patient and to run errands - like going to the pharmacy to buy necessary medications. This is different entirely to the way things work at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
In the summer of 2000 an international conference on HIV/AIDS was held in South Africa. Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa was roundly criticized when he spoke of poverty, rather than HIV as being the most significant cause of AIDS deaths. Though he was wrong in clinical terms, there is considerable truth in his conclusion too. Poor people and poor countries simply cannot afford the cocktail of medications that allow AIDS sufferers to prolong their lives.
Aids is a huge problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. UN-AIDS reports that in the countries most severely affected, up to 1/3 of all 15 year olds will die of the disease. Up to a quarter of adult Zimbabweans and South Africans are infected. Serious as it is in the developed world, it is having a devastating effect in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Many developing countries are located in tropical and semi-tropical climates - perfect breeding ground for bacteria, parasites, and insects that carry disease. In addition, clean drinking water is often difficult to find, as people drink the same water that wastes are dumped into. Such conditions were not uncommon in the developed world in the past,
but knowledge and wealth have allowed us to eliminate or reduce the impact of many diseases, but doing so is beyond the means of many developing countries. Cholera once killed thousands in 19th century London; it still does so in the developing world.
Water contamination is a huge problem. The World Bank notes that one billion people lack clean drinking water and another billion have insufficient sanitation. It further notes that 3 million children die each year of avoidable water-related disease. Intervention with Oral Rehydration Therapy is cheap and effective. Mixing 1 teaspoon of salt, 8 teaspoons of sugar and a liter of water creates a nutritious drink that a Diabetic child can retain, so as to begin regaining weight, and end the downward spiral to death. The Water and Sanitation Program is attempting to improve this situation through international development partnerships, but the task is daunting. Nonetheless, progress is being made and the provision of clean water is a key goal of even the World Bank in many of its international development projects.
Malnutrition generally is an affliction of the poor. For the rural poor, who live on the edge of disaster at the best of times, drought or other disasters that affect their crops can lead to horrific results. The effects of severe malnutrition are plain to see and many of us have seen images of children suffering from diseases like kwashiorkor, which wastes muscles while bloating unfilled stomachs, or marasmus, which strips bodies of fat and even muscle, leaving the sufferer looking like Auschwitz survivors.
In 1984, BBC reporter Michael Buerk's television account of the terrible conditions afflicting those suffering from the Ethiopian famine brought the reality of severe malnutrition into our living rooms. This was not the first televised famine, we had seen similar images from Biafra, in Nigeria, during its losing struggle for independence in the 1960's. However, these images were different. This was not film of something that had happened weeks or months earlier. Satellite transmission gave this famine an immediacy that had not been seen before. This was happening now and the images demanded a response.
As often happens with news stories, this one struck a particular chord with viewers and more and more stories were filed dealing with the catastrophe in the Horn of Africa. Similar famines were taking place elsewhere, as in war-torn Mozambique, but for the time being the attention of the world was riveted on Ethiopia. A well-connected rock musician, Bob Geldoff, brought together a number of other entertainers and support workers to raise money by donating their time to the production of fundraising record releases and concerts. Live Aid, two concerts held in London and Philadelphia, brought together some of the most well-known entertainers in both Britain and the USA. In Canada, Northern Lights, a group of Canada's best-known musicians also released a money-making record. There were numerous local productions all over the developed world, including Vancouver, where the West Coast Artists released "Open Your Heart," their aid for Africa recording. Enormous sums were raised through these efforts, bringing much needed emergency supplies to a country wracked by civil war.
As with all emergency aid programmes, this was only a band-aid (Interestingly enough, this was the name the British musicians gave to their joint group when they sang "Do they know its Christmas," about the famine.), since the problems causing the famine were not just a result of drought but of poor government policy and the side-effects of a particularly nasty civil war.
Many aid supplies were diverted to the use of the Ethiopian military. Sacks of grain, clearly marked as "Aid for Ethiopia" found its way onto market stalls across the border in the Sudan. Without available ports and road systems capable of handling the volume of supplies being sent as relief, there were terrible problems, yet many were saved. Possibly 6Ǌ million people were affected by the famine, with as many as a million dying as a result. However, most survived, and it is a testament to the determination of Bob Geldoff and the thousands of other dedicated volunteers that this was so. The aid that was sent was also not limited to emergency relief. Many organizations dedicated themselves to staying for the long run, helping Ethiopia and the breakaway country of Eritrea recover and rebuild their shattered economies.
In the year 2000, as this chapter is being written, drought again looms in the Horn of Africa. Once again millions of people are threatened with starvation. In 1984, Ethiopia had a population of a little over 35 million people. Today there are around 60 million souls in that poor nation. Will the world act as decisively today as it did in 1985? Will the news media find Ethiopia as enthralling as it did then? Will today's entertainers show the same compassion and produce Live Aid 2? Will you donate money or buy CD's produced to raise money for famine relief? Or is Ethiopia yesterday's news?
An Educated Future?
Just as health standards relate directly to wealth, so too do educational standards. However, as it is true that relatively poor countries can provide reasonable health care if they make it a priority, so too can they provide reasonable education services, if funds are not diverted elsewhere - to crooked politicians or to supply the needs and wishes of bloated military establishments. In 1995, Dr. Oscar Arias spoke with great sadness when he said "Four percent of the developing world's annual military budget would support programs that would increase literacy levels by 50%, educate women to the same level as men and provide universal primary education."
Dr. Arias identified on a number of key issues facing education in the developing world. Firstly, too many primary school aged children receive little or no education whatsoever. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in a year 2000 publication reports that 11.3 million primary age children remain out of school. Around the developing world, school enrollment is increasing, but rising population means that there are also more children left out.
Improving literacy is a hugely important goal. Illiteracy leaves people powerless. Illiterate adults cannot access information as well as their literate counterparts. They cannot read manuals or communicate effectively with friends, families and others. They certainly cannot assume positions of power and influence. Whether they live in the developed or less developed worlds, illiterates are relegated to the lower rungs of society.
Developed countries tend to have primary school participation rates of 98% or better (the 2% missing numbers are partly attributed to home schooling), while Sub-Saharan Africa has only a little over 33% of its primary aged children in school, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development-s A Better World for All - Education.
There have been some notable successes. In Malawi, government policies were changed in 1994 to eliminate school fees and improve school infrastructure. The result was a 50% increase in enrolment. Yet there are also many countries where things have become worse. The religiously extreme Taliban government of Afghanistan has closed girls- schools and has barred women from pursuing post-secondary education.
It is in improving gender equity to education that the greatest impact can be made for national development. As the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development notes in "2000; A Better World for All - Gender Equality" "Educated girls have more choices - in marriage, in childbearing, in work, in life. They can seize more economic opportunities. And they do more to shape their society-s political, social, economic and environmental progress." It should come as no surprise that in countries that the United Nations Gender Empowerment Index rates highly are also the most highly developed countries of the world. These countries benefit from the intellectual resources of all of the nation, not just part of it. Guinea managed to increase female enrolment from 20% to 40% through a number of initiatives that included, providing latrines for girls, removing gender bias from textbooks, distributing
textbooks without charge and allowing young mothers to return to school. However, the poor are the last to benefit from these improvements. Too often they are of greater economic benefit to their families working in the home. By the time they would leave schools they are of marrying age and are lost to their husbands' families.
The Drive to Consume
In his documentary film The Human Race; Escaping from History, Gwynn Dyer notes that the entire world is rushing headlong into more and more consumption. Though people in the developed world worry over the implications for the planet, it is entirely understandable that people in the developing world want exactly the same things that we have come to expect in life. Why wouldn't they? We worry and hope that they will simply accept less, but is this reasonable? Dyer quotes the muppet character, Miss Piggy, who says "less is not more; more is more." She is, of course, right.
In its 1998 Human Development Report , the United Nations reported that:
Ever-expanding consumption puts strains on the environment - Emissions and wastes that pollute the earth and destroy ecosystems, and growing depletion and degradations of renewable resources that undermines livelihoods.
It notes that consumption doubled between 1975 and 1998 and that it has increased by six times since 1950. Furthermore, this is more than just a reflection of increased world population. Expectations are rising everywhere. This is putting increased pressure on global resources.
So far, consumption has been driven by the developed world. As the 1998 Human Development Report notes, "a child born in the industrial world adds more to consumption and pollution over his or her lifetime than do 30ᇆ children born in developing countries. However, as developing countries enrich themselves, they do so at a cost. If every Chinese household had a car, what would it cost the planet in resource depletion? Yet, are we willing to surrender our vehicles?
The report also notes that the world's poorest have been left out of this consumption explosion. Three fifths of the 4,400,000,000 people who live in developing countries are without basic sanitation. One third lack clean water.One quarter are without decent housing and one fifth are unschooled. One fifth are without adequate nutrition.
|1.||Is it reasonable for people in the developed world to expect developing countries to simply remain the way they are today? Why or why not?|
|2.||What impact has rising consumption had on the world's resources and environment in the last half-century?|
|3.||Who has been left out of this consumption boom?|
Inequality and its Outcome
Within nations, huge inequalities sometimes result in social instability and even revolution. The Iranian revolution of the late 1970's was in no small measure a result of so little oil money filtering down to the masses. While the Shah, his family, and the Iranian elite enjoyed a life of staggering wealth, the lot of the poor improved little, if at all. The success of the religious leadership in galvanizing opinion against Shah Pahlavi's government lay in their attack on the decadent consumerism of the elite.
Inequality between nations can also lead to conflict. In the dry lands of the Middle East, water is an extremely valuable commodity. The struggle between Israel, Syria and Lebanon over the Golan Heights and the Sea of Gallilea has at its heart the issue of control of water supplies in that parched part of the globe. In a part of the world where political and religious differences already threaten peace, the need for this life-sustaining resource adds yet another cause for conflict.
In the Far East, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia all have overlapping claims for the seabed of the South China Sea.A popular novel by Humphrey Hawksley and Simon Holberton, Dragon Strike; The Millennium War, makes the very credible suggestion that a major conflict could be sparked by one nation trying to enforce its claim. At the heart of the dispute is the oil that is reckoned to lie beneath the seabed of this region.
Instability results not only in domestic and international conflict, but in large scale movements of people. In the summer of 1999 several boatloads of illegal immigrants turned up on the coast of British Columbia. The people mostly originated in the poor Chinese province of Fujian. Like the immigrants who came to North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they are economic refugees - migrants in search of a better life in the lands of plenty. They are prepared to risk much, including their lives. Professional smugglers charge large sums to move their live cargo. Often the new immigrants will have to work for years for low pay and in harsh conditions, without access to the services that citizens and landed immigrants enjoy, in order to pay the smugglers. Whether they are Chinese or Korean "snakeheads" or Albanian people smugglers, the criminals involved in this trade are organized and dangerous. Their cargo is viewed as a commodity and they are expendable. Many immigrants do not make it, like the 58 dead discovered in the back of a Dutch-registered truck in Dover, England, in June, 2000 or the unfortunate souls who died in a container opened by Seattle port authorities in the summer of 1999. When they arrive, many are destined for sweat shops in New Yorkor London or for lives as prostitutes or drug dealers working for their criminal masters on the streets of many Developed World cities. This is a concern for all developed nations, since no border controls are tight enough to stop this flow of humanity.
National governments and international organizations are very concerned about the movement of economic migrants. The solution to the problem is quite easy to identify, yet devilishly hard to achieve. Most migrants would prefer to stay at home if conditions there were considered tolerable. If living conditions improved, or domestic violence was curtailed, or persecution ended, then most would prefer to remain with friends, families and familiar surroundings. Recent events have shown us that their problems really are our problems in the global village.
In the developed world, social democratic measures have resulted in redistribution of resources in the form of services like health care, schooling, welfare and pensions. This has resulted in stable societies. Most would agree that this has been a positive development. Certainly more people live better in the developed world than at
any time in the past. However, this did not come without a cost as powerful elites surrendered both wealth and influence to make it possible. Indeed, it was not always done willingly.
All aspects of a person's standard of living are affected by poverty. Outside the developed world, where healthcare and welfare are the responsibility of individuals, rather than the state, this is especially true. The most important developmental questions are about how to break this cycle. Where should development money be spent? How
can the best result be had? Do we, in the developed world have a responsibility to help? If so, how?
Some would argue that it is time for the global pie of prosperity to be shared more equally. Others argue that the pie has grown and continues to grow and that the developing world must earn a greater share through hard work and efficiency.
Can we create enough for everyone to live at a decent level? Can we all live at the standards of the developed world? Are there resources enough to sustain this? Do we even want it? Are there acceptable alternatives? These are questions that we must address and return to continually as we develop.
|1.||How was social inequality a cause of the Iranian Revolution?|
|2.||Is social inequality an important issue in Canada? In North Vancouver?|
|3.||How is the distribution of water resources a cause of conflict in the Middle East?|
|4.||Why are China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia all parties to a conflict in the South China Sea? Why are countries outside the region concerned with this problem?|
|5.||Account for the increase in people smuggling in recent years? Who is involved in this trade in human cargo and what do the parties involved hope to gain?|
|6.||Is there a way to stop this business? How?|
|7.||If you were a national leader, where would you put resources in order to break the poverty cycle?|
|8.||How can we, in the developed world, help?|
|1.||Does "development" imply convergence? As countries develop, will they lose their individuality and become alike? Explain.|
|2.||What can Canadians do to reduce poverty here and around the world? Should we try to do so?|
|3.||Access the United Nations's Human Development Report at http://www.undp.org/hdro/report.html. Why does the UN assess poverty differently in developed and less developed countries?|
|4.||Make a list of your own needs and wants. Research life in a Least Developed Country and find out about the needs and wants of people your own age who live there. List their needs and wants. How are your lists similar? Account for the differences.|
|5.||We sometimes take our educational system and the opportunities it presents us for granted. How would your life be different if instead of free Kindergarten to grade 12 schooling and subsidized post secondary education you had to pay tuition for all of your schooling?|
|6.||Using the Hamilton Spectator's links to international newspapers at http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/newspapers/oc2.html#Topofpage as a starting point, read newspapers from around the world and compare similar stories about particular development issues. Good possibilities might include coverage of international health, education or development conferences or other topical international issues. Does media coverage differ much between the developed and developing worlds?|
|7.||How would the world be different if everyone on the planet lived at the same range of standards of living as we have in North Vancouver?|
|8.||Investigate the plight of a particular individual or group of illegal immigrats caught in BC.Write a 1Ǆ page report explaining:|
|a.||Where he/she/they came from.|
|b.||Why did he/she/they choose to leave?Consider religious, social and economic conditions.|
|c.||Why did he/she/they choose to come here? Is this his/her/their final destination?|
|d.||Would you have acted the same or differently if you faced similar conditions?|
1. Dictionary/Glossary Clues
Your task is to define the terms found in the box at the beginning of this chapter. First use the context of the sentence that the term is first found in, next look for additional information in a dictionary.
Copy the format of the chart below and include this information in your notebook.
1. Compare and Contrast Matrix Activity
Countries can be described as developed, developing, or least less developed. Using the matrix below, compare and contrast each category of country. You have been given three ways of comparison to start you off. You must come up with three more ways. Also provide an example of a country fitting this description. Place your example in parenthesis inside each box.
|Developed Country||Developing Country||Least Less Developed Country|
|Type of Government|
|Type of Economy|
Compare and Contrast Matrix Activity
It is difficult to compare living standards from one country to another. Needs and wants are relative and depend on widely different social and cultural norms. How, then, is it possible to compare countries? Several attempts have been made to compare countries fairly. However, although they attempt to do the same thing, they vary widely in their approach and in the elements that they attempt to measure.
Your task is to choose two different ways that we have attempted to compare living standards and identify how they are similar and how they are different.
|System 1||System 2|
|How are these systems alike?|
|How are these systems different?|
|1.||In your opinion, which indicator is the most important consideration when comparing countries? Why?|
|2.||Which indicator would you leave out? Why?|
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