Wednesday, July 10, 2013


A student wrote in my INTL 5400 class:

"The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the “poorest country in 2011 was poorer than the poorest country in 1980.  And much of humankind continues to live on less than $1 a day” (Jaura, 2013).  OECD believes that globalization is actually creating a larger gap between the rich and the poor instead of helping the entire world develop as a collective.  A series of studies by the OECD highlight both sides of globalization: in Brazil, a young professional manicurist left her rural home and moved to Sao Paulo and due to the economic growth in Brazil the future is looking very bright with a new car, health insurance and other commodities; on the other hand in Mali, a farmer is making less money for his cotton crops because of the additional charges from the state-run textile development company.  The inequality between the rising standard of living and declining wages are a big piece in the argument against globalization.  Pilger and his crew interviewed several families in Indonesia who were afraid they would not be able to pay for medication for their children and have to reduce their daily food intake from 3 meals a day to 2 meals day.  The article from Arab news highlights those same fears in other developing countries.
Jaura’s article also claims that China is somewhat of an exception to progress and growth from the developing world and that its good results distort the statistics from decreasing world poverty.  An OECD study shows that “in the last 20 years, rapid globalization has occurred alongside a worldwide decrease in extreme poverty.  Since 1990, the number of people surviving on under $1 a day has dropped by 25 percent” (Jaura, 2013).  China’s per capita income is increasing faster than most other developing countries and the large population means that a larger number of people move out of the $1 a day standard of living than in smaller countries.
I do not completely agree with Pilger’s perspective and the “hard data” from the Arab News article.  Statistics can always be drawn and manipulated to create the results a study wants to produce.  I believe the saying is, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Certainly there continues to be inequality between the rich and the poor and in some place the gap is actually growing wider.  However, a lot of the statistics pulled for the antiglobalization argument are misleading.  An economist from Columbia, Xavier Sala-i-Martin, said many of the statistics from the 1999 United Nations Human Development Report depart from “standard economic procedures, like not correcting for price levels from country to country” (Postrel, 2002).  Some of the stats only included a selective number of countries.  The biggest error Sala found was that the report “looked at gaps in income of the richest and poorest countries—not rich and poor individuals” (Postrel, 2002).  Comparing small populations like Grenada to large populations like China and giving them equal weight in a report does not seem like an accurate way to describe wealth inequality.  With China’s (and India) rising economy during globalization, billions of people have increased their standard of living.  “From the point of view of individuals, economic liberalization has been a huge success.  ‘You have to look at people,’ says Professor Sala-i-Martin. ‘Because if you look at countries, we do have lots and lots of little countries that are doing very poorly, namely Africa’’ (Postrel, 2002).  The entire population of the continent of Africa is about half the population of China, so despite the continued poverty in Africa individuals have increased their wealth and standard of living.
Jaura, Ramesh.  “Globalization Makes Poor More Vulnerable.”  Arab News.  25 Apr 2013.  Accessed 6 Jul 2013.
Pilger, John. The New Rulers of the World.  Dir. John Pilger.  2001.  Accessed 6 Jul 2013.

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