The suggestion that the tropics will never have "advanced economies"

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,861
Florania
Today, most (if not all) of the least developed countries are tropical countries, with the notable exception of Afghanistan.
Many explanations have been made:
The tropical climate renders the residents rather lackadaisical.
Tropical soils are relatively unproductive.
Diseases are quite rampant in the tropics.
These areas are late for civilizations.
Are these suggestions false?
Are there alternative explanations?
Can areas in the tropics become advanced economies?
 
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Mar 2018
972
UK
I would tend to agree that, historically, developing a sophisticated society in the tropics would be harder than in temperate zones (just like it's hard in the arctic, or deserts or many other places). But I'm not sure why the reasons you gave would apply today. Advanced economies are - by definition - not agriculture based, modern medicine eliminates the problem of diseases, air conditioning and good architecture negates the temperature problem, and so on
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,266
I would tend to agree that, historically, developing a sophisticated society in the tropics would be harder than in temperate zones (just like it's hard in the arctic, or deserts or many other places). But I'm not sure why the reasons you gave would apply today. Advanced economies are - by definition - not agriculture based, modern medicine eliminates the problem of diseases, air conditioning and good architecture negates the temperature problem, and so on

Not really... all of this has a cost..... Optimal economies have a good mix of resources -in a wide sense- (temperate climate, water, wood, mineral resources, security)
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,266
Today, most (if not all) of the least developed countries are tropical countries, with the notable exception of Afghanistan.
Many explanations have been made:
The tropical climate renders the residents rather lackadaisical.
Tropical soils are relatively unproductive.
Diseases are quite rampant in the tropics.
These areas are late for civilizations.
Are these suggestions false?
Are there alternative explanations?
Can areas in the tropics become advanced economies?
Yes, there are objective reasons why its generally harder to have advanced economies in a tropical climate zone.... The recent invention of air conditionning has removed some of the issues but not all

Singapore will of course be cited but it is a city with an ideal location (sitting astride 60% or so of the world's maritime traffic)...

But there are advanced economies in Taiwan, southern China.... Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines are not yet there but have good prospects...
 
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Mar 2018
972
UK
Not really... all of this has a cost..... Optimal economies have a good mix of resources -in a wide sense- (temperate climate, water, wood, mineral resources, security)
No economy has ever been even remotely close to optimal, whatever an optimal economy even means. Besides, you don't need to be optimal to be advanced, that's just moving the goal posts.

Maybe the cost of air conditioning and modern medicine are less than the cost of having to work around cities that are thousands of years old and whose layout is far from optimal for the modern world. Sometimes catching up from an initial situation with a disadvantage is easier than maintaining a lead but being encumbered with lots of baggage.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,266
No economy has ever been even remotely close to optimal, whatever an optimal economy even means. Besides, you don't need to be optimal to be advanced, that's just moving the goal posts.

Maybe the cost of air conditioning and modern medicine are less than the cost of having to work around cities that are thousands of years old and whose layout is far from optimal for the modern world. Sometimes catching up from an initial situation with a disadvantage is easier than maintaining a lead but being encumbered with lots of baggage.
Yes maybe optimal was not the right word... But the cost of what in effect is "artificial climate" should not be neglected (at the other end of the spectrum climates that are too cold also create issues of their own)...... And there are 1000+ years old cities in the tropics as well...
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,861
Florania
define unproductive soils.
They grow plenty of local foods there.
It is about the tropical rain forests that are rather poor in nutrient; then, Thailand alone provides a substantial portion of rice.
Being starchy and (arguably) more nutritious than grains, breadfruits and baobabs can (perhaps) become staple foods of some people.
Previously, agricultural diets were quite monotonous; introduction of exotic produce has expanded our choices.
 
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