Global Economic Development: What the Trends Portend

By: Patrice Ndayisenga

February 17, 2015

Technology, Values, and Development

The manner in which our social interdependence is fostered and regulated defines the hope for the members of society to reach fulfillment in life. This belief is succinctly echoed by Kaushik Basu through the idea of specialization that should create some sort of complementarity of efforts and services.

Basu emphasizes the idea of saving and investment for the global economic development especially amongst poor countries. However, his proposal is questionable given that poor countries are generally heavily indebted and foreign-aid-dependent. In a scenario whereby any annual gains are channeled towards serving external debts one wonders whether poor countries are capable of engaging in any realistic saving to strengthen their economic growth. Further, he alludes to the notions of poverty reduction and wealth distribution with little comment on how to include them in the agenda for the global economic development.  

These queries nonetheless may find a response in the notion of social justice that Benedict XVI extols in Caritas in Veritate maintaining that “justice must be applied to every phase of economic activity, because this is always concerned with man and his needs” [37]. Such consideration is indispensable as a practical supplement in the assessment of economic development often measured on the basis of the GDP increase but with little care about the social conditions through which such growth was achieved. Economic development needs regulation and governmental bodies should intervene at time to moderate the market economy so as to enable the poor to have a fair share in the economic gains of their country’s apparent progress.

Basu emphasizes that it is impossible to erase inequality in society, and his position may be true, in the sense that people’s diverse natural talents dispose individuals to different social advantages, which allow for some inequalities in career choices and also in economic gains. However, human society should be organized to regulate such natural advantages, which create severe social inequality and economic disparities. The interaction between the market economy and the political machinery cannot be undermined, since the latter plays key roles in the establishment of social mechanisms that assure social responsibility and promote everyone’s dignity in society. This is what social justice purports to draw our personal and national aspirations on, in the form of the “civilization of economy” that Benedict XVI proposes to address the current human predicament [38].  

Economic growth lacks any meaningful impact for society whenever the majority of its members go to bed hungry and only a few individuals lead an affluent life. Such an economy leaves the poor surviving on the government’s handouts but fails to empower them and to make them self-reliant in their basic social and financial needs. Governments could play a role in finding solutions to this challenge by putting in place mechanisms suitable for empowering every member of society in view of their particular capabilities. To achieve this, certain practices are lacking, for instance, in matters about trade agreements between poor countries and multinational companies; for such agreements need to always safeguard the interest of the worse off and the need to protect proper equilibrium between the better off and the least advantaged members of society. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI echoes the same through his advocacy for the micro-finance initiatives [65].

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