Why are some countries better at governance

Development and development policy

Health is a central element for the quality of life of every person and an important factor for population and economic development. In developing countries, however, other factors such as internal or cross-border migration also play a role.

Laboratory technician Mercy Oluya tests blood samples for HIV at the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières) clinic in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. (& copy AP)

Dispute over terms

The term "developing countries" is linguistically problematic in a certain way. Critics such as Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal have suggested that he is inappropriately optimistic about the fact that these countries are actually developing. The question of whether and how they developed needs to be clarified. For the poorest developing countries, the term "Least Developed Countries" (LDCs) has established itself. The term "Third World" is mostly related historically to the division into First World (western industrialized countries) and Second World (eastern industrialized countries), so that the developing countries then appear as the youngest country grouping as Third World. It is not to be understood in the sense of a hierarchy ("third-tier"). The term Third World was also used to emphasize the unity of this group of countries. Other experts have outsourced the poorest subgroup, the "least developed countries", as the "fourth world". With the end of the Eastern Bloc and the pluralization of the developing countries, the designation becomes increasingly questionable.

Country groups
But the possible linguistic alternative, the "south", is also problematic. Not only the geographical allocation is imprecise, since the wealthy states of Australia and New Zealand, for example, are located in the southern hemisphere. Rather, the term "south" suggests a uniformity of interests and actions that in fact does not exist or no longer exists.

Despite growing criticism, the terms discussed continue to be used for the most part - as here too - because they have become part of everyday language and there are no better alternatives. But one should be aware of the problems associated with them. "Development" can be understood to mean very different things. The international "Independent Commission for International Development Issues" (Brandt Commission), set up in 1977 under the chairmanship of the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, described the term as follows: "Development is more than the transition from poor to rich, from a traditional agricultural economy to a complex one Urban community. It not only carries the idea of ​​material prosperity, but also that of more human dignity, more security, justice and equality. "

The growing threat to the earth's ecosystem has also been reflected in development policy. In the mid-1980s, the term "development" was expanded to include the more precise adjective "lasting" or "sustainable". The "World Commission for Environment and Development" (Brundtland Commission) chose the following definition in its 1987 report, addressed to industrialized and developing countries: "We understand sustainable development as a development that meets the needs of today's generation without the possibilities Endangering future generations, satisfying their own needs and choosing their way of life. The demand to make this development 'permanent' applies to all countries and people. The ability of future generations to meet their own needs is also endangered by environmental degradation like underdevelopment in the Third World. " In another attempt, development has been defined emphatically as "human development".

In general, it is important to use the terms mentioned with caution, because judgments that come from one's own culture and can lead to blanket judgments as a benchmark are thoughtlessly incorporated.

Weaknesses in the domestic economy

The following summary takes into account characteristics and specific problems of developing countries in the area of ​​the internal economy.
  • Low gross national income per capita: The average gross national income (GNI, formerly gross national product) per capita is usually used as a benchmark for the economic situation of the population. However, the measurement of GNI per capita - and this applies to other characteristics to an even greater extent - is associated with methodological problems which limit its informative value and which should be taken into account when using it. Recording the ESD is already a difficulty. It is not very reliable and partly relies on estimates (for example, production only for personal use, i.e. subsistence farming). That is why the World Bank has developed so-called purchasing power parities, with which bundles of goods representative of the standard of living of the population are determined and their prices are compared with one another. The average per capita purchasing power compared to GNI per capita in the developing countries was more than three times as high in 2001. The mostly significantly lower prices for daily needs are responsible for this. However, there are methodological reservations about purchasing power comparisons, especially when they are used to measure the situation of the poorest part of the population. The basket of the poor is composed differently than the average basket. In addition, the prices in the country and in the city as well as between the regions are often very different.
  • Extremely unequal distribution: The average per capita values ​​are particularly misleading if the artificial statistical equality of the average values ​​in the countries concerned is in fact offset by pronounced inequality in distribution. The monthly income of a plantation owner of 5000 monetary units and of 100 plantation workers in the amount of 50 monetary units each, added together and divided by the number of people, results in an average income per person of around 100 monetary units; but this average size reveals nothing about the blatant inequality of the distribution between the groups of people mentioned. It is much more pronounced in the developing countries, both regionally and by person, than in the industrialized countries.
  • Low savings and investment: The extremely low income for the majority of the population is also reflected in a low savings rate. Investment activity will also be further weakened by capital flight. The wealthy part of the population often does not invest in their own country, but rather brings large parts of their own wealth to foreign countries that are considered to be safer, for example to confidential numbered accounts in Swiss banks.
  • Inadequate infrastructure: The expansion of the economy is hindered by an inadequately developed infrastructure, for example an inadequate transport and communication network.
  • Inadequate education and training: Although the proportion of illiterate people (people without literacy skills) among those over the age of 15 has declined significantly, in 2001 it still accounted for an average of a quarter in developing countries. In the poorest developing countries, with a focus on South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, it was even more than a third. In at least a dozen countries, more than half of the population cannot read or write, which not only affects economic development, but deprives them of an important prerequisite for equal participation in social and cultural life. Despite some great efforts and successes in the school sector, the promise made by the UN Education Conference in 1990 to ensure primary school education worldwide by 2000 has not been achieved. In 2000 there were 115 million children who were out of school, again with a focus on South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, only a quarter of developing countries manage to keep all schoolchildren in school throughout primary school.
  • High, covert unemployment: Covert unemployment occurs primarily in connection with the informal sector, which in many developing countries represents a basin for the unemployed who secure their survival, for example through street trafficking. Hidden unemployment also plays a role in agriculture, for example when a farmer only needs a small part of his available working time to cultivate his small arable land. Overt or covert unemployment affects a relatively high proportion of the working population in developing countries. In view of the large proportion of young people in the total population, the high level of youth unemployment is particularly threatening. In addition to unemployment, working conditions also play an important role. In many developing countries, the core labor standards propagated by the International Labor Organization in Geneva - in particular the ban on forced labor, the fight against child labor, and workers' freedom of association in trade unions - are not being observed.
  • Dominance of the primary sector: The largest area of ​​production is usually still the primary sector (agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining) and here in particular agriculture. However, the share of services has increased significantly over time, while the degree of industrialization has remained comparatively low.
  • Inadequate nutrition: Regardless of the dominance of the agricultural sector, undernourishment and malnutrition are widespread and famine for hundreds of millions of people in the developing world is now and for the foreseeable future a bitter reality. Estimates range between 400 and 880 million. Many developing countries have so far not been able to adequately supply their growing populations on their own. In the grain supply, for example, they have become increasingly dependent on imports from the north, especially from North America. Other developing countries, mainly in Asia, on the other hand, with the help of the "Green Revolution" (increasing agricultural productivity through new cultivation methods, in particular new varieties, but also new controversial debates about the risks of genetically modified food) have been able to increase their food production far beyond population growth . To solve the food problem, many developing countries would not only have to produce enough, reform their agricultural structure and change their price policy in favor of the producers. In addition, there is a need to better distribute food in order to secure supplies for the poorest parts of the population.

Source text

Between slum and high-tech

[...] V. Papathi [...] cannot read, she cannot write. The thirty-four-year-old lives with her two children in Kuduremala, one of the 80 slums outside the gates of the provincial city of Mysore, and is the spokesperson for the women here. They belong to the Dalit, the roughly 160 million untouchables in the largest democracy on earth. If they meet members of a higher caste, they silently change the side of the street. They make a living from cleaning toilets, clearing away middle class rubbish and emptying chamber pots. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) helped them build a decent home in Kuduremala. Its 800 residents now have clean water, a path between their huts that the monsoon does not wash away, a wall around their small village. And now the computer determines your thinking, your dreams. What is your greatest wish papathi? "I want my children to be able to become computer engineers! Like the children of the rich in Bangalore," says the woman in a firm voice.
"Bangalore is the city that waves to you" is the motto of the metropolis. Bangalore, the destination of all hope, is not far from here: 140 kilometers, a five-hour drive on a dusty dirt road called a country road. [...]
Five hours or a lifetime - the route from Kuduremala to the desks in the office towers of Bangalore stretches out. [...]
The Dalit in Kuduremala have benefited from the university in their own way. As are many from Mysore. [...]
"Nothing is comparable to knowledge" is emblazoned over the gate of India's sixth oldest university - "Nothing is comparable to knowledge". Mysore's College began as "Maharaja's College" in 1916 - today the Center for Information Science and Technology (Cist), founded in 2000, is its heart and pride. Mysore is about education, about the ticket to the path to prosperity. Of the 560 companies and institutions in the city that deal with computers in the broadest sense, 80 are internet cafes and 110 computer schools. Mysore is a water heater for the masses pushing into Bangalore. [...]
Bangalore, metropolis and metropolis. [...] On whose streets there is no getting through - except in a column of black bodies with tinted windows and police protection, with which new investors chase through the city. [...]
Jawaid Akhtar, director of the state government for information and biotechnology, wants to shine with numbers: "Software exports from Bangalore reached a value of around 2.5 billion dollars in 2003. For three years a new computer company has opened here every week, everyone Month a company from the biotechnology. Every international group in the branch has a branch with us. Dell even has four. " [...]
The city knows what it means for its surroundings, for the state of Karnataka, for all of India. [...]
One tenth of the population of the country of Karnataka live in Bangalore. The economic output per capita here is twice as high as in Mysore, for example. And that's why Akhtar now says: "We no longer want to concentrate the IT industry in one place, everyone must benefit from it." The second wave of investors is set to sprout think tanks across the country - just like a good monsoon rains rice.
The children of Mysore could benefit from it. But also the children in Kuduremala, the slum? [...]

Christoph Hein, Bangalore is the goal of hope, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from February 14, 2004.