Courtesy Reuters

The Underdeveloped and the Overdeveloped

This pair of phrases sums up the new, conflicting and contradictory assumptions that underlie the highly unsatisfactory climate of opinion in today's world. The use of the word "underdeveloped" in connection with a country implies that the most significant dimension of measurement in the world today is standard of living and that standard of living should be measured in terms of those indices that are inextricably linked with industrialization. Countries that are industrialized and depend primarily on agriculture and other primary industries are poor. Countries that are industrialized are rich. Richness and poverty are unequivocal terms. They relate to a single scale and provide one set of measurements in accordance with which all countries can be placed.

Economists grant that the problem of weighting is a difficult one. It is perfectly clear that, in a country in which 90 percent of the population can raise little more food than they need for their own consumption, very little will be left over to satisfy other and more complicated needs. If, for example, there is just enough extra food to take to a nearby market to sell for the few things that must be bought there-salt, candles, tea or coffee, tobacco, woven cloth-and the sellers always walk to market, then when bicycles are introduced, there will be no funds to buy them unless a change takes place. But in a relatively rich underdeveloped country like old Bali, where food was plentiful and there was a large surplus which could be spent on cremations, it was possible to cut down on cremations and to buy bicycles instead. When this happens, the standard of living is said to be higher. The culture has been impoverished and the country is not yet developed, but a first step in development has been taken-at cultural expense only. But where, as in most underdeveloped countries, the population lives at the subsistence level without a surplus of any kind, where the only source of animal protein is the ox or the

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue