The Geography of Poverty and
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Andrew D. Mellinger and John L. Gallup
text of the article, "The
Geography of Poverty and Wealth," published in the March 2001 issue of Scientific
American is now online. Provided below is an abstract, associated papers and
datasets for the article.
If you have any questions about the data, papers, and links on
this page, please contact us.
Abstract for "The Geography of Poverty and Wealth"
Why are some countries stupendously rich and others horrendously poor? Most
economists today have downplayed or neglected the role that physical geography
plays in economic performance, instead they implicitly assume that all areas of
the world have the same prospects for economic development. Our findings, based
on newly available data and analyses using geographic information systems,
suggest otherwise. Geography plays an important role in shaping the distribution
of world income and economic growth.
On a global scale we examined the relationship between climate, proximity to
a sea-navigable waterway, and economic development in terms of GNP per capita.
Coastal regions and those near navigable waterways are far richer and more
densely settled than interior regions. Moreover, an area's climate can
adversely affect its economic development through higher rates of infectious
diseases and lower agricultural productivity. Temperate zones near to the sea
account for 8 percent of the worlds inhabited land area, 23 percent of the
worlds population, and 53 percent of the worlds GNP. The very
poorest regions in the world, on the other hand, are saddled with long distances
to coastal-based trade and a tropical or desert ecology.
If our findings are true, aid programs for developing countries will have to
be revamped to specifically address the problems imposed by geography so they
can point the way to prosperity.
CID/HIID Research on Geography & Economic Growth
- Andrew D. Mellinger, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and John L. Gallup,"Climate, Water Navigability, and
Economic Development" CID Working Paper no. 24, September 1999.
- Jeffrey D. Sachs "Tropical
Underdevelopment" Presented at the annual meeting of the Economic History
Association September 8, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.
- Gallup, John L. and Jeffrey D. Sachs, "The Economic Burden of
Malaria" CID Working Paper no. 52, July 2000.
- Gallup, John "Agricultural
Productivity and Geography" January 1998.
- Gallup, John, Jeffrey Sachs, and Andrew Mellinger, "Geography and Economic
Development" Presented at the Annual Bank Conference on Development
Economics, World Bank. April, 1998. For STATA and EXCEL files with DATA FROM
THIS PAPER please go to the Development Data
- Radelet, Steven and Jeffrey Sachs, "Shipping Costs,
Manufactured Exports, and Economic Growth" Presented at the American
Economics Association annual meeting, January 1998.
CID Recommended Links on Geography and Economic Growth
- The global population data can be downloaded from SEDAC. The Socioeconomic Data and
Applications Center is an organization whose mission is to "develop and operate
applications that support the integration of socioeconomic and Earth science
data and to serve as an information gateway between the Earth and social
- The IPCC
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Data Dsitribution Centre contains a
Climatic Research Unit Global Climate Dataset that covers the period 1901-1990
and comprises eleven surface variables.
- The World Health Organization maintains an extensive and diverse malaria
- The World Health Organization Division of Control of Tropical Diseases provides data and
information on a variety of infectious tropical diseases.
- The Center for International
Health Information, a USAID resource, provides country level data on the
state of public health. According to their website, "CIHI's purpose is to
provide timely, reliable, and accurate information on the Population, Health,
and Nutrition (PHN) sector in developing countries assisted by USAID."
- The United States Department of Energy provides a "Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource (CEDR)
Program to provide public access to health and exposure data."
- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) maintains FAOSTAT, "an on-line and multilingual
database currently containing over 1 million time-series records."
- The International Soil Reference
and Information Centre provides extensive information on soil types, soil
formations, and soil capability.
- The United Nations Environment Program maintains a Global Resource Information Database.
- The World Bank
Development Institute of the World Bank
- Growth and
- World Bank
Development Indicators on CD-ROM
- Growth Researchers on
the World Wide Web
- Literature Surveys
on Economic Growth Resources Pages
- Trends in
Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
- Praxis -
Economic Development Links
of Economic Growth
- Review of
Economics and Economic Development
- The slogan of the
Environmental Systems Research Institute is, "Geography connects our world."
ESRI makes GIS software.
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Last revised 2/21/2001