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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)
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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.

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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 is labor productivity
Lizzy Reply
if the demand function is q=25-4p+p² 1.find elasticity of demand at the point p=5?
Puja Reply
what are some of the difference between monopoly and perfect competition market
Obeng Reply
n a perfectly competitive market, price equals marginal cost and firms earn an economic profit of zero. In a monopoly, the price is set above marginal cost and the firm earns a positive economic profit. Perfect competition produces an equilibrium in which the price and quantity of a good is economic
what are some characteristics of monopoly market
Obeng Reply
explicit cost is seen as a total experiences in the business or the salary (wages) that a firm pay to employee.
Idagu Reply
what is price elasticity
it is the degree of responsiveness to a percentage change in the price of the commodity
economics is known to be the field
John Reply
what is monopoly
Peter Reply
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Adeola Reply
because monopoly have no competitor on the market and they are price makers,therefore,they can easily increase the princes and produce small quantity of goods but still consumers will still buy....
how to identify a perfect market graph
Adeola Reply
what is the investment
investment is a money u used to the business
investment is the purchase of good that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth.
investment is the good that are not consumed
What is supply
 Supply represents how much the market can offer.
it is the quantity of commodity producers produces at the market
what is the effect of scarce resources on producers
Phindu Reply
explain how government taxes and government producer subsidies affect supply
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Charles Reply
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macroeconomics,microeconomics,positive economics and negative economics
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process of production
Basically factors of production are four (4) namely: 1. Entrepreneur 2. Capital 3. Labour and; 4. Land but there has been a new argument to include an addition one to the the numbers to 5 which is "Technology"
what is land as a factor of production
what is Economic
economics is how individuals bussiness and governments make the best decisions to get what they want and how these choices interact in the market
Economics as a social science, which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means, which have alternative uses.
Economics is a science which study human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means
Economics is a social sciences which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce mean, which have alternative uses.....
how will a country's population be equal to it's labour force
Hope Reply
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Obeng Reply
Production Possibility Frontier
What is Economic
Governor Reply
Economics is the social science that deals with the unlimited human wants in the face of scarce (limited in supply) resources.
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Gift Reply
marker is the interaction of buying and selling
market refers to the interaction of the processes of buying and selling of commodities between the buyer and the seller.
market is a place where two parties gather to facilitate exchange of goods and services.
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Using revenue
What is stock market
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when the number of workers is not equal to the height of job on ground d work load may b too much thereby causing delay on the work
market is the process of moving in and out of items that are used in future

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