Economic Development: Theory and Policy Applications

By Fidelis Ezeala-Harrison | Go to book overview

2
A Global Profile of Development and
Underdevelopment

Economic development encompasses how economic circumstances of nations and societies change over time. It also envisions how they can be made to change positively. In this regard, one would not need to look far to observe that the past two decades have been difficult for less developed countries (LDCs). Most of the regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America suffered severe declines in per capita incomes, and this situation only worsened as the 1990s brought a global recession coupled with the heavy burden of accumulated debt.

The momentous inroads into the world economy made by the former socialist economies of Eastern Europe and Soviet Union tended to shift world attention slightly away from the dire economic circumstances in LDCs. The "new world (economic) order" seemed to be one that poor nations might not find very hospitable. The end of the cold war meant redirection of emphasis and investment resources and aid away from many LDCs toward the emerging democracies of the East.

This chapter provides a broad overview of the existing economic development situation in the world. It examines the challenges, opportunities, risks, and obstacles of effecting development in the LDCs. Of central concern in the profile of world development and underdevelopment are the vexing problems of widespread poverty, rising gross disparities in the distributions of income and wealth, rapid population growth, urban congestion, rural desertification and neglect, and increasing environmental degradation. Of equal concern are the severe imbalances in the global economy, especially between developed and underdeveloped countries. We examine these disparities in greater detail with a view toward shedding light on what the fundamental problems are, and what pertinent policies might be adopted to better address them.


THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC HEMISPHERES

The world economic order clearly demarcates between two hemispheres: the

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