Global inequalities are exacerbated by physical and human factors.

Physical factors

The physical geography of some countries does not favour development.

  • Climate: if a country has a poor climate (really hot or really cold) they won’t be able to grow much, this reduces the amount of food produced. In some countries this can lead to malnutrition (e.g. Ethiopia), people who are malnourished have a low quality of life. People also have fewer crops to sell so less money to spend on goods and services. This also reduces their quality of life. The government gets less money from taxes, this emans there’s less to spend on developing the country.
  • Agricultural land: if the land in a country is steep or has poor soil (or no soil) then they won’t be able to produce a lot of food and this has knock-on effects on development.
  • Water supplies: some countries don’t have a lot of water (e.g. Egypt) and this makes it harder for them to produce a lot of food and this has knock-on effects on development.
  • Raw materials: countries without many raw materials (e.g. coal, oil) tend to make less money because they have fewer products to sell. This means they have less money to spend on development. Some countries do have a lot of raw materials but still aren’t very developed because they don’t have the money to develop the infrastructure to exploit them (e.g. roads and ports).
  • Natural hazards: countries which experience a lot of natural disasters (natural event which affects people’s lives or property) have to spend a lot of money rebuilding after disasters occur. They reduce people’s quality of life and they reduce the amount of money the government has to spend on development projects e.g. Haiti earthquake.

Case study of a natural hazard affecting development – Haiti earthquake

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The average income is $480 and unemployment is 40%. Only half the population can read and write and infant mortality is 60 per 1000. It has one of the most corrupt overnments in the world. About 1% of the population own 50% of the wealth.

Haiti suffered a huge earthquake in January 2010. It was the strongest earthquake in the region for over 200 years. The earthquake was close to the capital, Port-au-Prince. The main impacts were:

  • estimated 200,000 people died
  • 300,000 houses were either destroyed or damaged, this meant that money would need to be spent on rebuilding these instead of on development. This would also affect people’s quality of life.
  • 1.3 million people were made homeless
  • the capital was virtually wiped out, all infrastrucutre would need to be replaced taking money away from development. Many businesses were destroyed meaning that they couldn’t contribute to the country’s economy.
  • cholera spread rapidly through the country, this affected people’s quality of life and meant that they were too ill to work, having further knock-on effects on development.
  • any aid efforts/redevelopment projects were completely wiped out by Hurricane Sandy in 2012

This natural disaster, in combination with the political factors, means that Haiti continues to be the poorest country is the Western hemisphere and levels of development are low.

Political factors

There are three main political factors which slow development.

  1. If a country has an unstable government it might not invest in things like healthcare, education and improving the economy. This leads to slow development.
  2. Some governments are corrupt. This means that the politicians are breaking the law and not spending government funds to improve the country but rather are spending it on making themselves rich.
  3. If there’s war the country loses money that could be spent on development as military equipment is expensive, buildings can get destroyed and fewer people work. War also directly reduces the quality of life for the population.

Economic factors

  • Trade links: trade is the exchange of goods and services between countries and is essential for the country to make money. If a country does not trade it will not earn money to spend on improving levels of development.
  • Debt: very poor countries borrow money from other countries and organisations, this money has to be paid back (usually with interest). Any money a country makes is used to pay back the loan rather than help the country develop.
  • Industry: countries that mostly export primary products (raw materials, agricultural products) tend to be less developed as you don’t make much profit. The prices also fluctuate and sometimes falls below the cost of production. This means people don’t make much money and the government has less to spend on development. Countries that export manufactured goods tend to be more developed as profits are higher.

Social factors

  • Drinking water: a country will be more developed if clean drinking water is available. This is because if people drink dirty water they will catch diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Being ill reduces people’s quality of life but also means they can’t work so they don’t pay tax and the government has less money to invest in development. If access to safe water is low people have to sometimes walk to fetch water. This tends to be women and girls. If they are fetching water it means that the girls are not in school and the women are not working which also has knock-on effects on development.
  • Place of women in society: a country will be more developed if women have an equal place with men in society. These women tend to be better educated and are more likely to work. This gives them a better qualiy of life and the country has more money to spend on development as more people are contributing to the economy.
  • Education: the more children who are educated the more developed a country will be. This is because they’ll be higher skilled and able to get better, higher paid jobs later in life. Having a good job improves people’s quality of life and increases the money the country has to spend on development.

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