THE ECONOMIC BACKWARDNESS OF NATIONS:

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Kayode Onyemah Ojuyenum
Although the path to meaning meaningful economic development and growth has been described has been extremely complex and the ultimate guides to the path of real development has even been considered to be more complex than an arrow pointing confidently in a direction (Lindauer & Pritchelt: cited in White 2009: p.8). However research has shown that despite this complexity some societies has been able to forged ahead to brings about positive economic growth within their societies i.e. the western developed nations.
And while some of these nations have been able to overcome the misery of underdevelopment, many other nations of the world particularly the Sub-Saharan Africa societies are still enmeshed in the conundrum of underdevelopment and economic backwardness even in the 21st century. As such development studies discipline thus becomes the relevant discipline that seek to understand why some societies of the world are prospering while many are almost stagnated.
Thus the pertinent question is that if the western developed society could be able to tackle this social phenomenon effectively and many other societies in the recent past decades (i.e. the East Asian nations as well as the BRIC) equally making concerted efforts to improving the living standard of it citizenry which has been yielding a positive results in the recent time in terms of positive economic growth. Why then are many of the Sub-Saharan Africa and some other societies of the world are almost stagnated in terms of positive economic development and growth?

As such over the past decades the concept of development and underdevelopment of the societies does dominates the international debates by the various distinguished economic, sociologist and economic development scholars...trying to define and understand the concept of development in relations to human societies better and in order to help proffer some probable solutions to the challenges of underdevelopment and economic backwardness of many of the nations of the world particularly that of the Sub-Saharan Africa region where the challenges of underdevelopment and economic backwardness was believed to more pronounced in the society.
Although the concept of ‘‘development’’ may have different connotations to different people in various fields, nevertheless the facts remains that the main idea they all convey is that development means a change or the transformation or better still, an upward movement of a particular situation or social phenomenon in a direction that is consider to be better than the original nature or it early stage. Thus according to White... modern economic development is a process in which economic growth becomes self – sustained in the society however there are some powerful forces or factors that are responsible for any meaningful economic growth to take place in every societies (White 2009: p. 3-4).
In the same vein Kambhampati describes economic development as a means of making progress in all sphere of human existence including progress in the social and political as well as the fulfilment of the basic human needs (Kambhampati 2004: p 12). Thus in a broad sense development could describes as a process in which over a long period of time the real income per capital of a nation increases with a corresponding positive change in the standard of the living of an average civil society and not just a life transformation for an handful ruling and the privilege elites.

And stated by Todaro that development is both a physical reality as well as a state of mind that prevail in the society through the combination of social, economic, and institutional processes to secure the means for obtaining a better life for the greater population. As such development in every societies must therefore be based on the following objectives; to increase the availability and widen the distribution of basic life-sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health and security.
To raise the level of the living standard of the generality i.e. additional higher incomes, the provision of more jobs, better education, and greater attention to cultural and human values. To expand the range of economic and social choices available to every individuals within the society and releasing them from servitude and dependence, not only in relation to other people and nation-states but also to the forces of ignorance and human misery…all of which would serve not only to enhance material well-being but also to generate greater individual and national self-esteem.
(Todaro & Smith 2012: p.22-23).
However research has shown that development is not in any way fortuitous it as a result of human efforts within the society. And as argued by Schumpeter in his book the ‘‘Theory of economic development’’ published in 1911, where he stated that development should be seen as the only such thing in human society that cannot be enforced upon any society. As such economic development is as a results of the willingness of every individuals within the society to sacrifice in order to brings-about the much desire economic development and growth within the society (Schumpeter cited in Zhang 2005: p. 8). That is, positive economic development and growth in any society is more or less the function of endogenous rather than exogenous factors in other words, it a matter of choice.
Thus as stated by Acemoglu that there is always growth impetus imbedded in every human society however these growth impetus are latent or are in an embryonic form and until it is being acted upon or activated it would ever remains in the embryonic stage. And it exists in the set of the norms and the beliefs or betters still the existing institutions of the society (i.e. Cultural, Religion, Social, Economic and the political institutions). As such if the institutions of the society are inimical to growth then it becomes difficult for the growth impetus to develop and bring-about the desire transformation of the society (Acemoglu 2009: p. 868).
In other words, the development of every societies goes beyond mere external policies recommendation’s or the implementation of any macroeconomic policies as possible the way-out of any society economic backwardness (has expressed by the UN and it development agencies over the past decades nations).
In essence there are no amount of economic policies recommendations or technological transfer to any society… if the people and the existing culture, norms and belief does not conform with the new technology or economic policies recommendations as well as the willingness of the people to transform the existing institutions in order to accommodates a better one; there won’t be any appreciable growth within such society which of course seems to best explain the economic backwardness of many of the Sub-Saharan Africa nations in the 21st century.
And as stated by Paul Baron that …backwardness is not a static condition in which any society can overcome through the implementation of economic policies only… there are other factors militating against the socio – economic relations of the backward nations which actively impede growth and these factors need to be confronted in order to experience a meaningful economic breakthrough (Baron cited in Srivatsan 2012: p. 66).
Also according to Gunder- Frank development and underdevelopment are certainly a condition and it is the responsibility of every member of the society to make the sacrifice to brings-about a positive change within the society (Gunder-Frank in Srivatsan 2012: p.66). This of course has been demonstrated by the western developed nations in past century and decades.
As such the purpose of this dissertation is therefore to inquire deeper into causes of underdevelopment and the inability of the Sub-Saharan Africa societies to activates the growth impetus that are already imbedded in the fabrics of the society.

LanguageEnglish
Publication date11 Sep 2013
Number of pages83
KeywordsFinal Thesis
ID: 80824288