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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

discuss advantages and disadvantages of international trade.
Ram Reply
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What are the reasons of demand pull inflation
the reasons behind pull inflation are high rate of interest
in other hand when demand of specific commodity is high and its supply is low there will be inflation of price
Thank you
you are welcome
thank you
what is barter system
twinkel Reply
a system in which goods are exchanged for other goods
Barter system is said to be the process whereby goods are being exchange for goods
a system in which money have not play any role
goods and services are exchanged .. problem is finding equitable or agreeable value for the exchange of the goods or services.. I teach maths privately and love home made cake, I decided 4 home made cakes was worth an hour of private maths 😁
ok.thank u
thanks a lot to everyone .
accounts in balance of trade
Kamuyu Reply
What is fiscal policy and intrest rates
Attah Reply
fiscal policy is the use of govt. revenue collection and expenditure to influence the economy.
income and expenditure
Bittu Reply
Macro economics : it is the study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Rajat Reply
what is macro economics
Sarah Reply
it is study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Macro economics is the aggregate study of national income, investment, price level, changes in economic activities, GDP and economic inflation.
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what is comparative and superlative advantage? give an example
Xanaan Reply
Methods used to correct trade deficits?
David Reply
what is role capitalism unemployment?
Mafsuud Reply
being unemployment look job but not achieved their being out labor force is person can't work
being unemployment look job but not achieved their being out labor force is person can't work
themes studied in economics include?
Patrick Reply
Financial accounting GDP and GNP
Samson Reply
can u explain
this means that the demand curve have negative relationship with the price ..which means that when high price low demand of the product and vice versa so higher price will shirnk the demand of product
Ahsan Reply
Higher price level ∴Real value of household wealth increase ∴Net export decrease ∴More money needed, interest rate increase, investment decrease
net export decrease
a person has 60birr to buy two commodities,x and y the price of x is four birr unit the price of y is two birr unit his utility functio given by u=xy+2x determine the budget equation
Mohammed Reply
the budget equation will be- 60 birr= 4x+2y

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