Human factors


High population growth will generally limit development, since resources such as food, space, and water will have to be spread more thinly. There will not be enough jobs, houses, schools or health clinics to serve the population.


There may be a low level of industrialisation with few factories and offices. Some people believe that it is commerce and industry that generate the wealth for development. Jobs in these areas tend to be well paid and provide security.

Developing countries tend to have more jobs in the primary sector, with low levels of trade and often under the influence of multinational companies. The resulting profits often go abroad and tend not to be reinvested in the country.

Many developing countries are burdened with debt repayments. They may suffer from barriers to trade, such as tariffs and quotas imposed by developed countries.

China is an Newly Industrialised Country (NIC), with rapidly developing industry. Many multinational companies are investing there.

Singapore has the advantage of a natural harbour in a strategic position. This enables trading links to many other countries to be established.

Cheap labour and imported raw materials have also enabled it to develop its textile and shipbuilding industries. Singapore is a ‘tiger economy’. This means it has experienced rapid economic growth, becoming successful very quickly.

The original four Asian Tigers, or Asian Dragons, were Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These regions were the first NICs.

They are known because they had very high growth rates (they become rich very fast) and fast industrialisation between the early 1960s and 1990s.

Other factors

Political systems can affect development. For instance, some countries are ruled by dictators, such as Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Africa has more dictators than any other continent.

Many African countries, such as Liberia, Sudan and Somalia have been plagued by civil war and this has impeded development. Many of the civil wars in Africa have been caused by dictators, such as the conflict in Ethiopia, Sudan and DR Congo. Conflicts have a direct impact on Africa’s agricultural production.

In the 1960s, Africa could feed itself and export food. Now there is widespread food insecurity. Civil war and dictatorships also discourage foreign investment.