full version Development Of Underdevelopment Essay

Development Of Underdevelopment

Category: Social Issues

Autor: max86 08 March 2010

Words: 966 | Pages: 4

Paul Baran and Andre Gunder Frank are the originators of the concept of economic underdevelopment and it popularized during the late ‘60s. This is also known as the Baran-Frank thesis. The summary of the thesis was that industrialized rich nations obstruct or delay the development of poor nations by the help of policies and interventions designed to protect their global dominance over world trade and power. One of the main points the thesis layout is the concept of ‘the development of the underdevelopment’.

What it is?

The concept of ‘development of underdevelopment’ is actually a process where several countries have made development by exploiting resources causing underdevelopment in many countries. The process started by the European nations in the early 16th century by colonizing much of world with their superior military equipments derived from the countless wars in Europe. This colonization has lasted until the very end of 20th century.
In the text book has divided world economic history in four parts namely:

• Mercantilism(1500-1770)
• Industrial Capitalism(1770-1870)
• Imperialism(1870-1940)
• Monopoly Capitalism(World War II to present)

The above periods were very important for the understanding of world economic history due to spread of colonization. At the end of 15th century there were many civilizations in the world including Aztecs and Incas in America, Sierra Leone, Benin, Zimbabwe in Africa, and India, China in Asia who were at a comparable level of economic and cultural standards with the European countries. The only advantage Europeans have was they were better equipped with military arsenals due to the fact that over the centuries Europe was always involved in wars.

Europe used its superior military power during the mercantile period to conquer and enslave much of the world then. Soon they have gained absolute control over the resources of those countries and started to transfer them in Europe. As a result economic revolution was inevitable in Europe and the out burst of that was the result of Industrial Revolution. Industrial Revolution in Europe was fuelled by the resources acquired (or stolen?) from colonies which were often accompanied by new ideas.

The colonial powers were only interested in their profits. They have ruled their colonies with an iron fist and often brutally. They have even overlooked the necessity to provide the basic human rights (food, shelter, cloth etc.) for the people in the colonies. As Europe became more and more developed, its colonies became more and more underdeveloped and neglect.

What are the effects?

European colonization and invasions had a great negative impact on colonized or invaded countries; it has literally destroyed the socio-economic structure which was dependent on local trade and agriculture of these countries. Colonial powers were doing whatever they can to make profit. They have forced local people to grow ‘cash-crops’ rather than food, work in dangerous mines, pay excessive taxes etc. As a result life standard of local people became low and many people died due diseases. Due to British colonization in Australia, Aboriginal population dropped by as much as half a million (Burgman and Lee 1988).
According to Frank (1978, p.23), the regions that were resourceful in the pre-colonial era, became the ‘ultra-underdeveloped’ in the new world. For example, India was relatively advanced country in terms of its socio-economic structure. After the battle of Plassey in 1957, Britain starts get control over much of India and by the end of 1815 an estimated wealth of Ј500 to Ј1000 million was transferred to Britain which was very crucial to the development of British Industrial Capitalism.[1] Historian While Baran (1973,pp.277-85) argued that India would have been a different kind of country had it been given an opportunity (not colonized) like many fortunate developed countries we see today (for example, Japan).

What are the long term effects?

To fully understand the concept of ‘development of underdevelopment’, we need to understand the long term effects of colonization. The long term effects of colonization are in front of us today. More than 70% of the total population of the earth remains poor, mostly in Indian subcontinent, China and in subs Saharan African countries. The UN recognizes them as Least Developed Countries or LDCs. The richer nations are called Developed countries. Still today underdevelopment is causing the poor nations to become poorer. They are mostly happening for the following reasons:

• LDCs are less developed because of the practices of international political economy. It has contributed to the underdevelopment of the LDCs because of global market forces excluding national ones. By this the LDCs are becoming even less developed due to the emergence of capitalism which depended much on overseas trade in raw materials and sale of finished manufactured goods. It forces the LDCs to focus on making cheap products for developed countries severely ignoring local needs. Again it forces LDCs to buy finished products at a higher price from developed countries. Thus capitalism contributes to the underdevelopment.
• With the help of different international financiers like the IMF,World Bank, Foreign aid agencies, financial experts etc., the developed world always dictate to the LDCs on how and where the funds will be use. And these areas are only those that promote the interest of the developed countries which in turn contributes to the underdevelopment of LDCs.
• Developed countries also provide aid to the LDCs, but mostly they are in the form loans. They also put strict restrictions on how and where the money will be used. These funds are often misused by corrupt governments. As a result, it increases the foreign debt of a country and contributes to the underdevelopment of LDCs.

The concept of ‘development of underdevelopment’ is a wide topic. In recent years two developing countries: India and China are becoming emerging economical power in the globe. It will be interesting to see how many other LDCs follow their lead.


1. Johnston et al,1999, engineering and society, 2nd edition, Longman, Melbourne, Australia.

2. Anon., development of underdevelopment, accessed 12th September,2005.