Assess the View that Poor Countries Will Always Remain Poor (20)

An essay plan including Modernisation and Dependency Theory, Neoliberalism and World System’s Theory, Bottom Billion and Neo-Modernisation theory, as well as contemporary trends such as war and conflict and environmental decline and case studies such as India, China, Afghanistan and Haiti.

Introduction

The view in the question is most closely associated with Dependency Theory which argued that poor countries would remain poor due to their exploitation through colonialism and then neo-colonialism.

However, the historical record of the last 200 years of industrial development clearly shows that the above view is overstated: most poor countries, including many ex-colonies, have got wealthier, and have done so through a number of different strategies. However, it is also true that despite enormous increases in wealth globally, many countries remain trapped in poverty.

In order to address the question above I will do the following:

Firstly I will review the various theories of development which have pointed to a number of different causes of and related solutions to poverty in order to demonstrate the overwhelming historical evidence against the view in the question.

Secondly, I will discuss how emergent global problems such as the spread of war, conflict and terrorism, increasing consumption and environmental decline could mean that those countries which today are still poor today might well remain poor in the future.

Numerous theories of development have pointed to a number of causal factors related to poverty – according to these theories if certain things happen then poor countries are likely to remain poor…

  • Modernisation Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of their traditional values
  • Dependency Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of the legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism
  • World Systems Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of trade rules established by the WTO which works on behalf of rich countries and TNCs.
  • Neoliberalism – Poor countries remain poor because of too much Official
  • Development Aid and Corrupt governments
  • People Centered Development – The question of whether poor countries are economically poor is irrelevant – there are many different paths to development and many different ways of measuring development
  • Paul Collier’s Bottom Billion Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of Four traps – Poor governance, ethnic conflict, the resource curse and being landlocked with poor neighbours
  • Hans Rosling and Jeffry Sachs – Poor countries remain poor because of the poverty trap and lack of Official Development aid from the west

Conversely, if certain things happen, then poor countries will not necessarily remain poor. Countries will develop if….

  • (MT) Poor countries need to learn from the West, industrialise and progress through the five stages of growth
  • (DT) Poor countries need to break free from Western Capitalism and isolate themselves through socialist models of development
  • (WST) They position themselves as semi-periphery countries, manufacturing goods rather than exporting raw materials – e.g. The Philippines/India/ China
  • (NL) Poor countries need to open up their markets through deregulation, privatisation and low taxation – e.g. Chile
  • (PCD) There are diverse paths to development but all of them should respect the principles of equality, democracy and sustainability.
  • (BB) We need a Marshal Aid plan for the Bottom Billion, countries need to sort out poor governance and we need fairer trade rules
  • (Hans and Jeff) We still need massive aid injections, which need to be targeted initially on improving health, but also on women’s rights and education.

Case studies and global trends information which suggests poor countries will remain poor 

  • War and Conflict/ Terrorism
  • Higher rates of consumption as countries develop
  • Environmental challenges and the lack of global agreements on climate change
    Increase Military Expenditure
  • The increasing power of TNCs and lack of fair trade rules
  • The lack of commitment to giving official development aid by rich nations
  • Haiti
  • Iraq/ Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Liberia

Case studies and global trends information which suggests poor countries will continue to develop

  • The lowering of birth rates
  • The increasing number of children in school
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The UN’s sustainable development goals
  • Continued Economic growth globally
  • China
  • India
  • Brazil
  • Nigeria

Conclusion and Analytical Points – Using the evidence above BUILD a conclusion

From the above evidence it is clear that not all countries have remained poor….

The most applicable theory which helps us explain underdevelopment today is ____________________ and following this theory poor countries are most likely to develop if….

However, some of the challenges in the world today suggest that some underdeveloped countries might remain poor in the future. For example…

On balance I feel that that while all countries will probably not remain poor (delete as appropriate) (1) the majority of poor countries will remain poor and only a few will develop / (2)  most developing countries will develop but a few are likely to remain poor/  (3) add in an alternative closing sentence of your choice…

Global Development Revision Notes

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Global Development Revision Notes

 Global Development Notes Cover53 Pages of revision notes covering the following topics within global development:

  1. Globalisation
  2. Defining and measuring development
  3. Theories of development (Modernisation Theory etc)
  4. Aid, trade and development
  5. The role of organisations in development (TNCs etc)
  6. Industrialisation, urbanisation and development
  7. Employment, education and health as aspects of development
  8. Gender and development
  9. War, conflict and development
  10. Population growth and consumption
  11. The environment and sustainable development

 

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The Bottom Billion – Paul Collier – A Summary

Global poverty has been falling for decades, but a few countries which are caught in four distinct traps (such as the resource curse) are falling behind and falling apart. Aid does not work well in these places but there are things we can and should do because neglect will pose a security nightmare for the world of our children.

Paul Collier’s Bottom Billion Theory can be used to criticise all previous grand-theories of development – modernisation theory, dependency theory and neoliberalism.

The Four Traps

Trap 1- The Conflict Trap

73% of people in the bottom billion countries are in a civil war or have recently been through one. Civil war reduces income and low income increases the risk of civil war. Low income means poverty and low growth means hopelessness and available young men. When the economy is weak the state is weak and rebellion is easier. Sometimes rebel movements get finances from resource exporters in return for future deals.

“Rebels usually have something to complain about, and if they don’t they make it up. All too often the really disadvantaged are in no position to rebel: they just suffer quietly.” Little relationship has been found between the risk of civil war and political repression or intergroup hatreds or income inequality or colonial history. There is some relationship to particular patterns of ethnic diversity.

A civil war doubles the risk of another civil war. “Civil war is development in reverse.” “Both economic losses and disease are highly persistent: they do not stop once the fighting stops.” Usually there is a further deterioration in political rights. “A rebellion is an extremely unreliable way of bringing about positive change.” “The foot soldiers of rebellion, often do not have much choice about joining the rebel movement.” “Gradually the composition of the rebel group will shift from idealists to opportunists and sadists.” The kind of people most likely to engage in political violence are the young, the uneducated, and those without dependents.

95% of global production of hard drugs comes from conflict countries. Conflict provides territory outside government control for illegal activities to operate.

Three economic characteristics make a country prone to civil war: low income, slow growth, and dependence upon primary commodity exports. “Civil war leaves a legacy of organized killing that is hard to live down. Violence and extortion have proved profitable for the perpetrators. Killing is the only way they know to earn a living. And what else to do with all those guns?”

Trap 2 – The Natural Resource Trap

Paradoxically, the discovery of valuable natural resources in the context of poverty constitutes a trap. It often results in misuse of its opportunities in ways that make it fail to grow and results in stagnation.

Societies at the bottom are frequently in resource-rich poverty. “The heart of the resource curse is that resource rents [rents = excess of revenues over all costs] make democracy malfunction.” “Oil and other surpluses from natural resources are particularly unsuited to the pressures generated by electoral competition.” In the presence of large surpluses from natural resources autocracies produce much more growth than do democracies. When there is plenty of money, leaders tend to embezzle funds, spend on large, pet projects and buy votes through contracts. The corrupt win the elections. Resources reduce the need to tax, undercut public scrutiny, erode checks and balances, and leave electoral competition unconstrained where parties compete for votes by patronage. Alternatively restraints raise the return on investment.

Autocracies work with little ethnic diversity. Diversity tends to narrow the support base of the autocrat and requires greater income distribution to the autocrat’s group. “Becoming reliant upon the bottom billion for natural resources sounds to me like Middle East 2.”

Trap 3 – Landlocked with Bad Neighbours

Geography matters. Landlocked countries must export to neighbouring countries or through their infrastructures to the coast. Uganda is poor and Switzerland is rich because they are dependent upon their neighbours. All countries benefit from the growth of their neighbours but resource-scarce landlocked countries must depend on their neighbours for growth. This includes about 30% of Africa.

Trap 4 – Bad Governance in a Small Country

Terrible governance and policies can destroy an economy with alarming speed. Note President Robert Mugabe. Governance matters, conditional upon opportunities. Differences in opportunities can make a big difference. Countries who have done better since 1980 have generally exported labour-intensive manufactures and services. The government simply has to avoid doing harm. Exporters need an environment of moderate taxation, macroeconomic stability, and a few transport facilities.

Why is bad governance sometimes so persistent? Because some benefit. The leaders of many of the poorest countries in the world are themselves among the global superrich. They like it that way. Many of them are simply villains. But beyond villainy, there is a shortage of people with the requisite knowledge, brave reformers get overwhelmed by the resistance, and there is often not much popular enthusiasm for reforms.

Recent failing states include Angola, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan, the Solomon Islands, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is borderline. Turnarounds are rare because reformers are often suppressed and in danger.

Three characteristics encourage a turnaround: larger populations, higher proportion of people with a secondary education, and recent emergence from a civil war. Whether the state was a democracy or granted political rights did not seem to matter. The impetus for change must come from the heroes in the society. The probability for a turnaround in any given year is 1.6%, so they are likely to stay as failing states for a long time.