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Does Geography Matter? Essay

1609 words - 7 pages

Does Geography Matter?
I shall advance the thesis that geography is a significant factor in economic development. By saying that geography matters, I mean that an economy is highly dependent on it’s geography because it explains why certain economies prosper, while others, in contrast, struggle. I have two reasons for asserting my thesis that geography is a significant factor in economic development. First, there is a strong correlation between geography and productivity (McArthur, Sachs 2001,p. 3). Second, geography directly shapes the sorts of institutions that evolve and thus indirectly affect economic development (Engerman, Sokoloff 2002, p. 3). As mentioned above, my thesis stresses the importance of geography and it’s related variables in economic development; for although there are many different attributes that contribute to economic development, it is, without a doubt, obvious that geography plays the most significant role in determining the success of an economy, thus I will illustrate that geography shapes the performance and institution of economies, which, in turn, means it heavily influences economic development, and accordingly concludes that geography matters.
In ordinary discourse, geography is a rather contested concept, so for this purpose, I use the most widely accepted definition of the term, from the Oxford Dictionary, defining it as, “the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features (Simpson, Weiner, Proffitt, Oxford English Dictionary).” With this clarification, I will begin by presenting the theories and evidence that illustrate why geography is important. The most obvious factor to analyze is the physical location, and thus what location means in regards to an economy and it’s productivity. Generally speaking, “coastal economies have a higher income than landlocked economies (Gallup, Sachs, Mellinger 1999 p.173),” which is explained by their closeness to water; which, then, allows for various aids to help productivity, namely exporting. With the easy accessibility to water, an economy has the advantage to export their products, and thus have a larger demand for their goods, which means they can make more profit (Gallup, Sachs, Mellinger 1999 p.176).
In a similar sense, the market accessibility is very essential in defining an economy’s trading partners, so the closer an economy is to it’s trading partners the better because location explains about sixty percent to seventy percent of variation in income across economies, and thus by moving fifty percent closer to trading partners the income raises twenty-five percent (Minns, 2013). To better express this effect of geography and productivity, I will present an example using Sri Lanka as the subject. Currently, Sri Lanka is located off the southern coast of India and is situated as a singular island, however if Sri Lanka moved, its economy would drastically change. First, if Sri Lanka were no longer an island, it’s income would increase about seven...

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