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Geographic and Demographic Differences

Countries have geographic differences: some have extensive coastlines, some are landlocked. Some have large rivers that have been a path of commerce for centuries, or mountains that have been a barrier to trade. Some have deserts, some have rain forests. These differences create different positive and negative opportunities for commerce, health, and the environment.

Countries also have considerable differences in the age distribution of the population. Many high-income nations are approaching a situation by 2020 or so in which the elderly will form a much larger share of the population. Most low-income countries still have a higher proportion of youth and young adults, but by about 2050, the elderly populations in these low-income countries are expected to boom as well. These demographic changes will have considerable impact on the standard of living of the young and the old.

Differences in Industry Structure and Economic Institutions

Countries have differences in industry structure. In the high-income economies of the world, only about 2% of GDP comes from agriculture; the average for the rest of the world is 12%. Countries have strong differences in degree of urbanization.

Countries also have strong differences in economic institutions: some nations have economies that are extremely market-oriented, while other nations have command economies. Some nations are open to international trade, while others use tariffs and import quotas to limit the impact of trade. Some nations are torn by long-standing armed conflicts; other nations are largely at peace. There are differences in political, religious, and social institutions as well.

No nation intentionally aims for a low standard of living, high rates of unemployment and inflation, or an unsustainable trade imbalance. However, nations will differ in their priorities and in the situations in which they find themselves, and so their policy choices can reasonably vary, too. The next modules will discuss how nations around the world, from high income to low income, approach the four macroeconomic goals of economic growth, low unemployment, low inflation, and a sustainable balance of trade.

Key concepts and summary

Macroeconomic policy goals for most countries strive toward low levels of unemployment and inflation, as well as stable trade balances. Countries are analyzed based on their GDP per person and ranked as low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Low-income are those earning less than $1,025 (less than 1%) of global income. They currently have 18.5% of the world population. Middle-income countries are those with per capital income of $1,025–$12,475 (31.1% of global income). They have 69.5% of world population. High-income countries are those with per capita income greater than $12,475 (68.3% of global income). They have 12% of the world’s population. Regional comparisons tend to be inaccurate because even countries within those regions tend to differ from each other.


Retrieve the following data from The World Bank database (http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx) for India, Spain, and South Africa for the most recent year available:

  • GDP in constant international dollars or PPP
  • Population
  • GDP per person in constant international dollars
  • Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)
  • Health expenditure per capita (current U.S. dollars)
  • Life expectancy at birth, total (years)

Prepare a chart that compares India, Spain, and South Africa based on the data you find. Describe the key differences between the countries. Rank these as high-, medium-, and low-income countries, explain what is surprising or expected about this data.


International Labour Organization. “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013.” http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/youth/2013/lang--en/index.htm

International Monetary Fund. “World Economic and Financial Surveys: World Economic Outlook—Transitions and Tensions.” Last modified October 2013. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/02/pdf/text.pdf.

Nobelprize.org. “The Prize in Economics 1987 - Press Release.” Nobel Media AB 2013 . Last modified October 21, 1987. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1987/press.html.

Redvers, Louise. BBC News Business. “Youth unemployment: The big question and South Africa.” Last modified October 31, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20125053.

The World Bank. “The Complete World Development Report Online.” http://www.wdronline.worldbank.org/.

The World Bank. “World DataBank.” http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx.

Todaro, Michael P., and Stephen C Smith. Economic Development (11 th Edition) . Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley: Pearson, 2011, chap. 1–2.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
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Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
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Akash Reply
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characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
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s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
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