What is it, exactly, that separates rich countries from poor countries? According to Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters of U.S. Army Intelligence, there are several characteristics that have been prevalent in countries that have struggled economically, around the world. Many poorer countries in Africa, South America, and parts of Asia have demonstrated nearly every aspect of his list, while most of the world that has thrived, economically, has shown the tenacity to do the exact opposite. Here are some of the social tendencies of countries that fail, economically...
Restriction of information
According to Peters, the free flow of information around the country stimulates progress and innovation, while also encouraging the population to be well knowledged and up to date on current events. Restricting the flow of information is pervasive to personal freedoms, and stymies populations from making educated decisions. The freedom of the press, while also just a basic human right, is actually a tool for economic prowess that cannot be underestimated. Peters believes that China, in order to keep up with its desired economic growth, must soon open up its flow of information. Freedom of information, speech, and the press are essentially components of liberalized democracies that have influenced the relatively high growth of most industrialized nations.
Subjugation of women
Time and again, we have seen how striving towards a more equal society has yielded intense economic benefits. Women make up, roughly, half the population of every single country. Thereby, it makes little economic sense, on top of being intrusive of human rights, to keep half of the population from being able to do things like go to school, open businesses, and all-around be productive members of society. It's actually quite a silly notion, but one that has serious implications for women around the world. Modernized countries that have recognized women as equals have been able to enjoy the benefits that innovative and skilled women can bring to an economy. Essentially, in almost all cases, a society of discrimination will yield economic negatives that will drag the entire country down.
Domination of a single religion
Anytime a restrictive religion has a level of dominance and control over things like policy, economic prosperity is surely not going to follow. The only examples of this type of governance that have worked out is in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are so rich in oil resources that they are much more of an outlier, who have remained prosperous despite, rather than because, of their theocracies. Usually, religious dominance will mean that minority religions are treated with some level of disdain, which usually reflects in their businesses being targets of discrimination. This leads to many parts of the population being held back from doing their best work, which can stunt innovation that will push an economy forward. As we stated in our last entry of this series, any society that lends itself to discriminatory policies is actively working against its own self interest.