A Study of the Improvements and the Deteriorations in Four Nations
Our world has changed immensely in the past twenty-one years. Major improvements, such as high-speed communication via the internet, have allowed East and West to link together, yet some countries have stagnated, and others have even deteriorated. The reason the world is unequal and many countries are still suffering from war, disease, and poverty is because development does not happen overnight and does not happen in a uniform way. However, it is troublesome that there are still countries that do not know about the internet, or do not use cellular phones, and do not therefore take part in the advancements that could propel our world and our civilization forward. The reality of this fact leads one to ponder how these countries have evolved, and how can some poor countries rise up to be wealthy, while others remain poor.
In order to begin to tackle this question, I will analyze four countries in this paper from four different continents utilizing the Human Development Index, also established twenty-one years ago. The countries to be examined are Estonia (Europe), India (Asia), The Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa), and Mexico (Latin America). These countries today are placed differently on the human development index, and I will analyze their position in four previous years - 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010 - to see how four indicators - life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, school enrollment ratios and GDP per capita - compare in these four countries. Lastly, I will employ secondary research and compare the results that I have found to discover patterns and attempt to predict whether these countries can and will join world progress or whether they have already done so.
The Human Development Index, as aforementioned, was first published in 1990, and opened with a quotation stating, "People are the real wealth of a nation." This phrase guided all subsequent reports, according to the Human Development Reports (HDR) website. This statement was further accompanied by yearly data that analyzed each country in the world from various standpoints, and placed it in the Index for better comparison. The Report, thus, has had a great impact upon how we see and analyze other countries, and has helped in that endeavor. In addition to analyzing every country, the Report of 2010 also looks back on previous decades to find how it has progressed and how it has helped improve the world. This reflection is important because it finds trends and patters that can teach us lessons for the future. One of these lessons, according to the HDR, is that there is not one formula that can achieve progress, and that long-term goals are often vital for progress, in addition to the constant work necessary to achieve these goals. [1: No Author. (2010). "The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development." Human Development Reports -- UNDP. Retrieved April 19, 2011, < http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2010/>. ]
The four countries that I have chosen are analyzed each year by the HDR. In addition to this scrutiny, these countries have also been analyzed in numerous studies throughout the years. Below, I will begin a literature review that will focus on each country in particular, and offer a basis for how to analyze these countries further to help establish patterns for future studies.
Estonia is the first country to be analyzed. This country is located in Northeastern Europe, and it has a wealth of history. Prior to the fall of communism in the early 1990's, Estonia had been, just as the rest of Eastern Europe, closed off to the Western world. However, since its independence in 1991, Estonia's transformation has been heralded among the most successful in Central and Eastern Europe. According to Amy Serrill, who writes on this topic, not only did Estonia completely revitalize its government, but it also transitioned successfully to a market economy. Throughout the 1990's, due to a combination of "key policies, including commitment to privatization, adoption of an independent currency, establishment of an extremely open trading regime, and successful attraction of foreign investment," Estonia enabled its economy and its citizens to prosper, and was thus quickly invited to join the European Union. [2: Serrill, A. (1997). "Estonia: A Shining Example of Economic Transformation." Business America, 118(1). Retrieved April 19, 2011. Pp. 7-8. ]
Serrill further analyzes Estonia's development and includes GDP growth statistics from 1993 to 1997, which grow significantly every year. When the article was written, in 1997, Serrill stated that Estonia's economy was predicted to grow between five and seven percent. She also added that this small country was heavily dependent on foreign trade and could offer trade potential for the United States, who could benefit from a stable partnership in Eastern Europe. She further added that U.S. firms could find opportunities in Estonia for "computers and office equipment, consumer products, sporting goods, foodstuffs, building products, medical equipment, and capital goods," as well as car sales. [3: Serrill. "Estonia." Pp. 7. ]
Another writer who speaks about the transformation of Estonia and what it could offer in terms of economics is Wolfgang Drechsler who writes about governance and administrative capacity in Estonia. Good governance is an important facet, and it allowed Estonia to prosper economically. Though this study focuses on the negative aspects as well, especially those that Estonia had to undergo to conform to European Union standards, he does acknowledge that the country had the right idea, though it must strengthen its administrative capacity in order to strengthen its EU membership. After Serrill and Drechsler's comments, one can see that Estonia is a successful transition from communist authoritarianism to democracy and market economy. This transition will also be examined below in terms of HDR statistics. However, first, literature on the remaining three countries must also be examined. [4: Drechsler, W. (2004). "Governance, Good Governance and Government: The Case for Estonian Administrative Capacity." Trames, 8(4). Retrieved April 19, 2011. Pp. 388-96 ]
The next country, India, is today a force in the global economy. In the 1990's, however, India was still struggling with its increasing population and its vast land size. India and Estonia are relative success stories, as both countries have improved their economies in the past few decades, but neither country is perfect. However, it is important to analyze these two countries prior to the DRC and Mexico to see what is different in their economic-financial or political thinking so that one may see how to change the latter two for the better. With respect to India, I will focus on business, for this is truly what has pushed the country towards progress.
According to the Economist, Indian business is booming and it will change the world. In Delhi, ten years ago, the landscape was totally different, for example. According to one of the people interviewed in an office building, one could not even get coffee back then, whereas now, the area is full of office buildings, making the city a hug of outsourcing. Whereas Estonian economy boomed due to trade with the European Union, Indian economy has boomed because of outsourcing, especially this partnership with the United States, but also its exports within the entire world. Outsourcing, according to this particular person is just as important to the Indian people as it is to those who outsource the labor. The business of this sole company analyzed here is predicted to grow from $1.2 billion to almost $10 billion in the next ten years. This is a huge increase for this particular business and this is exactly why the country is growing so quickly economically, specifically by almost eight percent yearly, according to this article. [5: Unknown. (2010). "A bumpier but freer road; Business in India." The Economist. Retrieved April 19, 2011.]
India is often compared to China, which is another country that is growing very rapidly. However, unlike China, which is communist, India is a democracy. Its competition with China is not to be underrated, for the two countries are 50-year-old rivals. This could be another reason why India constantly strives to do better economically, whether it be through exports, technology, etc. Furthermore, one advantage that India has is a bulge of manpower that was present in China a few decades ago. Democracy is another advantage, for it allows India to regulate its businesses and make itself more marketable to the Western world, in which India has many powerful friends. [6: Unknown (Editorial). (2010). "Contest of the century." The Economist, 396(8696). Retrieved April 19, 2011. Pp. 9-10. ]
The next country to be analyzed, in stark contrast to the booming of India is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where civil war rages on, women are raped in full daylight, and many still die of diseases long eradicated in the West. Including the DRC is important because it will serve as a case study for how to improve the poor nations of the world. A writer states that simple diseases such as…