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Does Economic development play

a significant role

in attaining

a better life worldwide?

Coo, Naw Hser

Section 1

IS 104 Theories of Development

2nd Semester, SY 2008-2009

Ms Lorna Q. Israel

18 December 2008


The advancement of technology and communication era, the world is being called a global

village. Due to the shrinking, every nation all over the world becomes interdependent for its

economic development. If the eastern part of the world suffers, there is a potential which can

indirectly affect the western. Therefore, I obviously see that economic development plays a

significant role in a global community to have a better life. However, I still have doubt whether

economics development should be considered as a main character or not. Therefore, I choose two

authors who are Michael Todaro and Richard Peet to ease my skeptical.

Generally, both of them discussed about economics development by comparing and

contrasting among different nation particular the developing and developed countries. Moreover,

they emphasized that economic development is fundamental not only in a country but also all

over the world. However, the differences are Todaro presented things by figuring and tabling with

respective data which covered all over the world, while Peet convinced readers with economic

theories which were created by famous world respectable economists such as Adam Smith, John

Maynard Keynes and so forth. Moreover, Peet mostly focused on United States and Latin

American economics rather than all over the world in general.

Both writers’ writing styles are totally different. While Michael Todaro’s writing is simple

and understandable, Pett is very complicated and much technical term. In my opinion, they did

not come up with their own interpretations and arguments. They were preferable to use data from

the reliable sources which had been done by others and arguments from one economist to

another. I feel they are passionate about what they have written as they exert enough effort to

convince their readers by providing as much as evidence as they can such as updated tables,

maps, and assorted economists’ theories. Furthermore, they not only simply provide me with

explanation but also make me think beyond the reading such as what appropriate development

methods should be used in a particular area, how economics development can reach in third

world countries by 2015, how economics theories could apply in a specific situation, and why

government policies are pivotal in a country to have a better life.

Michael Todaro was Professor of Economics at New York University for eighteen years and

Senior Associate at the Population Council for thirty years. He lived and taught in Africa for six

years. He appears in Who's Who in Economics and Economists of the Twentieth Century. He is

also the author of eight books and more than fifty professional articles. ( Richard

Peet has a BSc (Economics) from the London School of Economics, an MA from the University

of British Columbia, and a Ph D from the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of interest

include: social and economic geography, political ecology, liberation ecology, development

theory, geography of consciousness and rationality, philosophy and social theory, iconography,

semiotics, and critical policy studies. (Peet, Richard. Ph.D., Academic Catalogue for 2008-2009)

Beginning my understanding on development prior to learning

Prior to answering to my answer, I would like to explain the beginning of my understanding

on development. Before learning, I do not have any idea what development is. But, I think

development is improvement. Among different kinds of development, I think culture and

environmental development are important because when a country develops, people usually do

not preserve their cultures. They lost their identities and were assimilated by the western

modernization. Furthermore, as soon as the country is improving, the exploration of new

discoveries and invention are also followed. In consequence, it becomes from agriculture to

industrialized country. These improvement and enhancement changes give harmful result to

environment, ecosystem and population. When I look at all, all specific areas of development are

essential. Therefore, development word puzzles in my head and I raise some questions: what the

meaning of development is as a whole and what the main is to be considered in the development.

Realizing a significant role of economics development

Since start learning development in the class, these puzzles were solved by Richard Peet.

Because of his indications, I felt that I have a better understood what the development was and I

realized that economics development is being in a vital position. As Richard Peet defined:

Basically, development means improving the conditions of life. Basically, economics is knowledge

about the effective use of resources in producing the material basis of life. Therefore, development is

fundamentally an economic process, economics has an abiding interest in development, and all

theories of development have significant economic dimension. (Peet, p 17)

In addition, Rosaria Ribeiro and Mildred Warner defined what economic development is. I

think this definition is more precise, concrete and understandable than the previous one. Then it

convinces me how economic development is incredibly vital to every single angle of our society.

The definition said:

Economic development is typically measured in terms of jobs and income, but it also includes

improvements in human development, education, health, choice, and environmental sustainability.

Business and economic developers in the US are increasingly recognizing the importance of quality of

life, which includes, environmental, and recreational amenities, as well as social infrastructure such as

child care, in attracting and retaining businesses in a community.

According to Ribeiro and Warner, economic development is not only per capita but also the

well rounded development such as education, health, environment, and so forth. Hence,

according to the two definitions, I did not have any doubt on my question because when I think

from the very basic, I realize that economic development should be considered as the important


Individual Level

Let us think in a basic and simplest way from individual before going to the global

community. A person has high per capita. From this income, he can support his parents, have

health insurance, give qualified education to his children, buy luxury cars, purchase house, have

vacation in some famous places on the world, and so forth. Therefore, the result from now and

later is very much positive and satisfied: his children will graduate and have a lucrative job; when

he is sick, he can get medicine and treatment; he does not need to worry when he is retire because

he has house.

In contrast, let us compare to a person who do not have income a dollar per day with the

previous one. He can buy only two meals a day, cannot buy medicine because no extra money for

health, cannot attend school because without working he cannot buy food, cannot give education

to his children, and so forth. Finally, his future will be intertwining with terrified, problems or

trouble: he becomes a thief or murder because he has no money to spend for food; his children

are beggars because he cannot feed them; when he is sick, he has to die because no money to buy


Peet defined that development is improving the condition of life, however, without high

income, it is impossible to improve the condition of life. Therefore, as Ribeiro and Warner

defined economic development is generally concerning job and income, I absolutely agree that

economic development should be considered in the significant role to have a better life.

National Level

After discussing on individual, let us go to the farther step to the national level to see the

significant role of economic development by determining the level of corruption. High per capita

means high in economic development which is seen in western countries such as America,

England and Canada. When the country has high economic development, the government

supports and provides citizens sufficiently so that people do not usually see corruption in

developed countries. On the other hand, corruptions can be widely seen in developing countries

because the government is not rich enough to pay to office staffs. Regarding this issue, J.

Malcolm Dowling and Ma. Rebecca Valenzuela mentioned as follow:

It appears as if Western societies have less corruption. The rule of law seems to apply most of the

time. This is not to say that there are no scandals in every country, but they do not seem to be as

widespread as the network of bribery in the developing Asian countries. Japan ……..Moreover, the

richer countries can usually afford to pay public officials well. This alone will reduce the level of

corruption. (Dowling and Valenzuela, p 332)

While corruption is not popular in western economic developed countries, best education is

popular and accessible in those countries rather than the developing countries such as Thailand,

Indonesia, Malaysia and so forth. This is not amazing why the countries have best education

because they have wealth following with high economic development to create world educational

standard. According to academic ranking of world universities 2007, Top 10 world universities

can be seen in America and United Kingdom: Harvard, Stanford, California-Berkeley,

Cambridge, and so forth. (Top 500 world universities (1-99)) As long as they possess world best

education, these countries have been enriching best knowledge. The more the countries enrich

best knowledge, the better the countries’ economic development is. Therefore, there is undeniable

to say that economic development plays a significant role not only from individual but also in


Global Level

As uniting individual becomes a country, collection of 195 countries (

Geography) becomes a world. A world is look like a human body. If an eye is blind, the whole

body has to suffer. Likewise, if people in a country are not healthy and has many uneducated, it

hurts not only the country but also all over the world directly or indirectly. If eastern countries are

less developed then the western countries has to suffer too. Why? Because nowadays the world

becomes a global village, people from the west go to the east for investment, pleasure and so

forth. Similarly, people from the east go to the west but different purpose such as working and

migrating. From travelling, people exchange culture, friendship, things, disease, and so forth. To

be more precise, I would like to give example what Dowling and Valenzuela discussed:

AIDS has become a worldwide health problem since it became a health issue several decades ago.

Currently, HIV/AIDS has infected more than 34 million people worldwide and has resulted in 2.8

million fatalities.

Correspondingly, Todaro discussed:

Our earth shrinks with the spread of modern transport and communications, the futures of all peoples

on this small planet are becoming increasingly interdependent. What happens to the heath and

economic welfare of the poor rural family and many others in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East,

or Latin America will in one way or another, directly or indirectly, affect the health and economic

welfare of families in Europe and North America, and vice versa. The steady loss of tropical forests

contributes to global warming; new diseases spread much more rapidly;

By observing this, the things do not happen at a particular area. They are very much likely to

spread from human to human relationship and activities. So, if a country has high economic

development, it can find a way to lessen the problems by raising awareness or other practical

activities as it has sufficient national budget. On the hand, if a country has underdeveloped how it

can work out the problems without adequate national budget. As long as there is interdependence

among nations, problems cannot be solved alone by developed nations. Therefore, global

economic development should implement in the first place to go to have a better life. Otherwise,

the whole will suffer.


I see the authors’ arguments and points lead logically to the next. For example, first, both of

them introduced what they are going to write very well. Next, they followed their introduction in

main portrait with respective topic that they have set. Then they have a helpful conclusion and

summary which covered all so that even though if I cannot get every specific meaning, the

introduction and conclusion guide me to have a better understanding on the readings.

Personally, I feel that Todaro’s and Pett’s absolutely answer the question that I raised because

both of them depicted the significant role of economic development in a global community with

different presentations. Todaro’s wrting is a case in point. In his writing, he mentioned the

characteristics of developing nations: low levels of living, characterized by low incomes,

inequality, poor health, and inadequate education; low levels of productivity; high rates of

population growth and dependency burdens; substantial dependence on agricultural production

and primary-product exports; prevalence of imperfect markets and limited information; and

dominance, dependence, and vulnerability in international relations. (Todaro, p 49-59) To

become these characteristics, it has a root which is economic development. If a country has high

economic development, these will be existence but much substantially lesser than

underdeveloped countries.

Next, Pett’s arguments also have strong points to answer my question. For instance, he


During and immediately after World War II most Western government committed themselves to full

employment as a policy objective. The New Deal in the United States had mobilized governmental

resources to create employment during the Great Depression of the 1930s. President Roosevelt

proclaimed freedom from want everywhere in the world as one of four basic human freedoms. In

wartime Britain, two Beveridge reports advocated full employment and welfare services. …And

between 1945 and 1950 the United States under the Marshall Plan gave Western Europe $19 billion to

finance its economic recovery. (Peet, p 40)

From his writing, I saw the U.S. government was using such big amount of money for

economic development purpose rather than social, health, educational development because

these all developments are under the economic development. Without being vital, nobody wants

to give such amount of cash to other countries. Therefore, Peet’s arguments totally guide me to

see how the economic development is crucial and I do agree with what he mentioned.

I think the authors fail to discuss about the negative consequences of economic development

such as climate change, air pollution, global warming and so forth. The left out the things that I

think are important to me because I think this is only the beginnings of books so they initiated

with the development term. Probably, they will discuss later in other chapters because these are

the current and hot issues around the world.

All in all, Michale Todaro is the best author for me to answer my question because his

writing style is simple and understandable without boring. Moreover, he used the simple words

rather than technical jargons. Next, as I am a beginner leaner of development, his elaboration

makes me a simple thought based on his reading. The things that he wrote in the reading are also

relevant to my questions such as comparing disparities between developing and developed

countries, and the characteristic of developing countries.


Peet, Richard and Elain Hatwick. (1999). Theories of Development. New York/London: the
Guilford Press.

Todora, Micheal. (2006) (9th ed). Economics Development: A Comprehensive Approach.
Pearson/Addisson Wesley.

Dowling, J. Malcolm and Valenzuela, Ma. Rebecca. (2004). Economic Development in Asia.
Singapore: Thomas Learning.

Ribeiro, Rosaria and Warner, Mildred. Ph.D. Terms used in this report, from Measuring the

Regional Importance of Early Care and Education: The Cornell Methodology Guide.

Available at,

accessed on December 16, 2008.

Top 500 world universities (1-99), Academic Ranking of World Universities 2007, Available

at, accessed on December

16, 2008.

10 Geography. The Numbers of Countries in the world. Available at, accessed on

December 16, 2008.

Amazon.Com. Economic Development. Available at,

accessed on December 16, 2008.

Peet, Richard. Ph.D. Acadamic Catalog for 2008-2009. Available at, accessed on December

18, 2008.