Capitalist-led development does not work everywhere. Meddlesome governments and rapid population growth partly explain why some economies have fallen so far behind. But geography, climate and natural resources may play a larger role than has generally been acknowledged. There are many countries which have done most things according to the capitalist gospel yet cannot seem to attract foreign investment.
In sub-Saharan Africa growth was on average 4 percentage points below that of East Asia between 1965 and 1990. Bad government explained perhaps 1.7 percentage points of the difference. But a combination of lean natural resources, poor access to transportation and fragile tropical ecology explained 1 percentage point. Short life expectancy, linked to the incidence of tropical diseases, accounted for 1.3 percentage points. Locational problems were less critical in Latin America, accounting for just six-tenths of a percentage point of the region's 3.9 percentage point differential in growth with East Asia. But geography apparently did play a malevolent role in a handful of countries, notably Bolivia.
Tropical economies will barely reach half the gross domestic product per person of temperate zone countries in the foreseeable future, and then only if they get their act together on economic and population-containment policies.
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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