Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Blog #1 “Incensed About Inequality.”

March 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments

In Chapter 20, Martin Wolf argues that globalization is a good thing because it has reduced inequality and poverty in developing nations. He dismisses the notion that a move toward a market economy, one where “private property rights, free enterprise and competition increasingly took the place of state ownership,” makes poor nations poorer. He proves his argument by providing statistics released on a variety of variables. I’m going to state the statistics from eastern Asia because Wolf makes clear that this is the region with the fastest growing economy. First, he mentions that the GDP per head is growing faster than in developed nations. Between 1990 and 2001, the GDP per head increased 5.5% a year there. Secondly, he says that the number of people living in poverty in eastern Asia has decreased, from 30.5% in 1990 to 15.6% in 1999. Life expectancy has increased from 49 years to 62, and fertility rates have dropped to 2.1 Illiteracy rates and child laborers have also decreased. Lastly, the infant mortality rate in eastern Asia has decreased from 56 in 1980 to 35 in 2000. In sum, if a nation’s economy is doing well, people enjoy higher standards of living that result in longer lives, less poverty, and better education. Although Wolf likes the idea of globalization, his argument is a bit faulty. He writes that other nations, particularly African nations, have not seen the same economic growth that Asia has. Perhaps his argument should be that globalization has positively impacted Asia’s economic growth the most. Hans Rosling presents similar data in his presentation about how people in developing nations are having fewer children and are living longer. However, the data makes clear that some nations are doing better than others over the past thirty years. For example, Cambodia’s child survival rate is about 80%, whereas it is 99.7% in Singapore. The impacts of globalization are regional, and evidently affect nations differently.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1    temimahz // Mar 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I agree that some of Wolf’s logic is faulty. He makes it seem as if a growing economy will lead to national improvements as does Hans Rosling. Their statistics and information is impressive but shouldn’t they take into account the threat of too much wealth in a nation? Obviously we are talking about nations in tremendous poverty, but perhaps they should have included more social issues as a solution.

  • 2    Prof. Hala // Mar 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Great critique. Your point about the regional variation in the effects of globalization is critical. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, Robert Wade argues (more strongly in a different article than the one that is assigned for this class) that the problem is not that globalization is having negative effects (increasing inequality, for example) but that globalization isn’t really happening at all. He says the big problem is that most of Africa isn’t really integrated into the global economy.

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