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Tropical Underdevelopment

Author

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  • Jeffrey D. Sachs

Abstract

Most recent cross-country analyses of economic growth have neglected physical geography as a determinant of economic growth. This paper reviews the distinctive development challenges faced by economies situated in tropical climates. Using geographic information system (GIS) mapping, the paper presents evidence that production technology in the tropics has lagged behind temperate zone technology in the two critical areas of agriculture and health, and this in turn opened a substantial income gap between climate zones. The difficulty of mobilizing energy resources in tropical economies is emphasized as another significant contributor to the income gap. These factors have been amplified by geopolitical power imbalances and by the difficulty of applying temperate-zone technological advances in the tropical setting. The income gap has also been amplified because poor public health and weak agricultural technology in the tropics have combined to slow the demographic transition from high fertility and mortality rates to low fertility and mortality rates. The analysis suggests that economic development in tropical ecozones would benefit from a concerted international effort to develop health and agricultural technologies specific to the needs of the tropical economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2000. "Tropical Underdevelopment," CID Working Papers 57A, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cid:wpfacu:57a
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    File URL: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/centers/cid/files/publications/faculty-working-papers/057.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Masters, William A & McMillan, Margaret S, 2001. "Climate and Scale in Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 167-186, September.
    2. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    3. Masters, William A & McMillan, Margaret S, 2001. "Climate and Scale in Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 167-86, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin H. O’Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2007. "Trade, Knowledge and the Industrial Revolution," Development Working Papers 230, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    2. Edinaldo Tebaldi & Bruce Elmslie, 2008. "Institutions, Innovation And Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 27-53, December.
    3. Federico Bonaglia & Jorge Braga de Macedo & Maurizio Bussolo, 2009. "How Globalisation Improves Governance," Chapters,in: The Law and Economics of Globalisation, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. John W. McArthur & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Institutions and Geography: Comment on Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (2000)," NBER Working Papers 8114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
    6. Nancy Birdsall & Liliana Rojas-Suarez (ed.), 2004. "Financing Development: The Power of Regionalism," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 359.
    7. Tebaldi, Edinaldo & Elmslie, Bruce, 2008. "Do Institutions Impact Innovation?," MPRA Paper 8757, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic growth; geography of development; health; agriculture; technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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