Just as extreme inequality can exist between regions, extreme inequality can also exist between countries in the same region. Twenty-three of the world’s twenty-five poorest countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. But some countries in the southern part of the region, such as South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, have a higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than countries in the northern part, near the Sahara.
Similarly, inequality can exist within countries, just as it does between them. South Africa has one of the largest economies and highest measures of GDP per capita in its region, but it is also one of the most unequal countries there. Just because a country has high GDP or GDP per capita does not mean that the wealth is shared equitably among its citizens.
So why do some countries develop faster or more equally than others?
Development is a complex and varied process.
It can be difficult to determine why some regions and countries have developed faster than others because so many factors can contribute to a better or worse off living standard for people in a given country.
To get a sense of factors that lead to development, it’s helpful to look at both developed and developing countries as case studies.
Singapore’s economic miracle