Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Drizzle alone will not provide a path to prosperity : Climate and Growth

One of my favorite columnists from the Financial Times, John Kay, wrote a piece summarizing some of the theories about economic development in hot climates.  Sanjay mentioned one of these theories last night.  From the article:

Jeffrey Sachs has
emphasised disease: hot, humid climates may not be congenial
environments for humans but they are congenial to many unpleasant
parasites. Malaria
alone is a major obstacle to economic development. Another geographic
explanation comes from Jared Diamond. The crops and animals on which
modern agriculture is based – such as corn, pigs and sheep – thrive in
temperate zones. In an ingenious twist, Prof Diamond argues that this is
why Eurasia – a horizontally positioned land mass where agricultural
practices could be transmitted to similar climates to the east and west –
developed more readily than America, a vertically positioned landmass
in which agricultural practice could not easily be transmitted from
north to south....
In their 2001 paper, The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development,
Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson of MIT point out that
you would have seen a very different relationship between temperature
and per capita income if you had looked at the world in 1500, when the
Mogul and Aztec civilisations were at their height. But then western
Europe developed the political, social and economic institutions that
make modern economic prosperity possible – and in subsequent centuries
transmitted these around the world......But in India and the Congo Europeans had no interest in permanent
settlement: the institutions they installed were those of exploitation,
and a legacy of exploitation continued to afflict these countries even
after the colonisers departed. It is not an accident that Montesquieu
was the first person (in 1748) to observe the correlation between
climate and prosperity: not only was he from a colonial power, but he
was writing at precisely the time that imperialism was creating the
phenomenon he described.


Drizzle alone will not provide a path to prosperity -


  1. Climate definitely is a crop production. As well as many other industries. These countries hopefully will be able to find their niche in the world market and avoid being exploited by powerful nations.

  2. He maske a really good and interesting point. I had never really thought of the correlation between climate and economic development but as i read this i was trying to piece together what i have seen and experienced. West African countries (mostly in the tropics) do have problems raring domesticated animals and animals in general and compared to southern Africa, there are more Southern African countries (Mediterranean climate) whose economies are stronger than West African countries' economies.