Why Countries Poor Analysis

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The question of why some countries are rich and others poor is one that has been hotly contested by many economists and political scientists. There exists a plethora of theories on the issue which would take ages to account for individually. Thankfully, Acemoglu and Robinson (2012), in their book, Why Nations Fail, provides us with a comprehensive and succinct version of the major theories competing to sufficiently answer the question of concern. The theories concerning the wealth of some nations and penury of others are largely grouped into 4 categories: geographical hypothesis, the culture hypothesis, the ignorance hypothesis, and the institution hypothesis. In my opinion, the group of hypotheses/theories which hold the most merit in attempting…show more content…
This group of hypotheses attribute the disparities in the wealth of countries to the elements of their cultures: i.e. whilst some have social norms and practices which promote progress and development, others have cultures which perpetuate poverty. As outlined by Acemoglu and Robinson, the culture hypothesis holds that Africa is poor because its people lack good work ethic, still believe in witchcraft and magic, or resist new Western technologies. Likewise, Latin America will never be rich because its people are innately wasteful and impecunious, and because some of its people still adhere to cultures that are backward in nature. The culture hypothesis does hold some merit in that social norms, which are related to culture, matter and can be hard to change. However, one of the concrete features of culture is this: culture is dynamic. Culture has never and will never be stagnant. Furthermore, aspects of culture which are inimical to economic growth are modified by the society concerned in order to encourage economic/pecuniary buoyancy (Clark, 2007). Thus, if an aspect of a culture is detrimental to the well-being of those concerned, they would change that aspect of their culture so as alleviate the situation. Hence, I find the culture hypothesis to be lacking as well because, as Acemoglu and Robinson point out, those aspects of culture often emphasized—religion, national ethics, African or Latin values—are just not important for understanding how and why the inequalities in the world persist. The culture hypothesis is debunked, once more, by the inequalities which exist between places like North and South Korea and
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