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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 are the jobs of an economist
Shadrach Reply
study and predict economic indicators. give a economic base for polictical decision
using the aggregate supply - aggregate demand model , explain how out and prices are determined , will out vary or stay fix in long run ?
can you explain please
explain me too
The long-run aggregate supply curve is a vertical line at the potential level of output. The intersection of the economy’s aggregate demand and long-run aggregate supply curves determines its equilibrium real GDP and price level in the long run. Am I correct?
so it will out vary
no one corrects me
yes no-one corrects you.
but I'm here to listen your answer
aggregate supply is total of all industry supply.
In the long-run, the aggregate supply is graphed vertically on the supply curve. The equation used to determine the long-run aggregate supply is: Y = Y*. In the equation, Y is the production of the economy and Y* is the natural level of production of the economy.
yes you're correct Mr. Tedessa
What's a slope?
Tatiana Reply
rate of change,
😀😀 always happy. ....
interaction of demand and supply
Raka Reply
not know
aggregate demand ko aur kin namo se Jana jata hai
Narayandutt Reply
aggregate demand ko kin namo se Jana jata
Discuss briefly, the circular flow of income in a two-sector economy.
Kweku Reply
Ben Reply
that is choice and want....
what is the determination of aggregate demand?
Maddy Reply
C+I consumption + investment
AD= C+I+G+(X-M)
classical dichotomy and its components?
Romaisa Reply
what will happen to the demand curve when there is an inflation in an economy
Hamza Reply
From my view, I think the demand curve will shift inwards.
now it depends on what kind of inflation it is, depending on the type of inflation the movement of the demand curve can be stated.
yes it depends on the cause for inflation. if it caused by maybe an increase in money supply, the effect is neutral in the long term, therefore there are no effects on total output in the economy, except for an increase in price
but short term in general i think you could expect the demand curve to shift inwards as consumers experience a decrease in real income
source of capital for the sole trader
Dogbey Reply
borrowing from relatives, government grants, bank loans, personal savings, credit card etc.
Suppose you are holding 2000 in a checking account and the price level decrease by 20 %how much it will affect your purchasing power and why
Iqra Reply
Hi Iqra, will answer your question soon.
2000*0.2= 400 2000-400= 1600
a price level decrease is deflation. it means you'll be able to afford to buy more with your 2000 and your real income becomes 2000÷(100-20)=2500
the amount will decrease to 1600 and you can't be able to buy over this amount
As an economist student discuss how the pandemic covid19 can affect the aggregate demand and aggregate supply thereby leading to decrease in GDP and standard of living of citizens of nigeria
Fadila Reply
pandemic covid19 has already resulted to recession among nations. Recession on the other hand, refers to a fall in aggregate demand due to low income, no or little savings, low productivity among firms, layoffs of workers and so on. currently, international trade is on the hold which has drastically
affected the GDP and GNP of countries. This to a large extent has affected the purchasing power of consumers
Hence the standard of living is questionable among nations especially among developing nations
hi how can you help me?
qusai Reply
can you send me the notes
hello is what are you talking about?
unemployment and low inflation    .
Abdirizaq Reply
Structure/Organization Of The Federal Reserve
sorry guys in macroeconomics what is different between inflation and intrest rate? please example for pandemic related maybe?

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