The Process of Economic Development

By James M. Cypher; James L. Dietz | Go to book overview

1

The development imperative

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty

Aphorism heading the World Bank's Mission Statement

After studying this chapter, you should understand:
• the relative magnitude of poverty in the less-developed nations and some of its human and social costs;
• differences in relative incomes and development levels between regions of the less-developed world and compared to more-developed regions;
• trends in economic growth in different regions of the world;
• the extent of inequality in the distribution of income, in wealth and in participation in economic and social life of the world's poor in different regions of the world;
• the range of barriers to development, both internal and external, that tend to thwart economic, social, and human development;
• the importance of structural change, of technology and of institutional innovation to more rapid progress in the future in the less-developed world.

Why study economic development?

Throughout the 1990s, some eleven million children under the age of five were dying every year in the less-developed nations from preventable illnesses (UNDP 2001:9; WHO 1994; World Bank 1993a:1). These are sobering numbers and are difficult to grasp as aggregate abstractions. They translate to more than 35,000 deaths daily, more than 1,400 children dying every hour of every day of every week and of every month of the year, children whose lives ended before they really had an opportunity to begin. More than half of these deaths were due to respiratory illnesses and to diarrhoea and the severe dehydration that can ensue, exacerbated by malnutrition in a vicious circle of hunger and disease (see Focus 1.1 Saving Lives: ORT). 1 Roughly, in the ten seconds it has taken you to read this paragraph, five

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