The economic underdevelopment of a country can be measured on its balance sheet and by its gross national product; but in human terms it is the standard of living (as measured by comparative per capita figures) and the vital statistics for birth, health and death, that show what poverty brings. Economic underdevelopment not only means that the health of the people is affected, but also that local education and training and the importation of technologies for increased productively cannot be paid for. Thus there is no way out; and underdevelopment continues, maintained by expensive loans and inappropriate technology transfers.
Gross national product on a per capita basis in USA dollars show that in 1980, the high-income oil exporting countries of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ranged from 27,000 to 11,000; and the industrial economies, market and non-market, from 16,000 to 4,000. Over thirty economically underdeveloped countries had GNPs of less than 500; another twenty of less than 1000. Switzerland, with the highest figures for a non-oil exporter, had $16,440; while the lowest was Bhutan with $80 per person.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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