Home > The Economy > Why some countries are poor and some rich – a non-Eurocentric view

Why some countries are poor and some rich – a non-Eurocentric view

from Deniz Kellecioglu

The latest issue of Real-World Economics Review includes my paper “Why some countries are poor and some rich – a non-Eurocentric view”.  You may access it here (http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue52/Kellecioglu52.pdf). Below is an abstract not previously included.  I hope many of you will read the article, recommend it to others, and perhaps use it in your research and/or lectures.  Also, this blog post provides a forum to discuss the article (comments section below).   


Racism and prejudice exist in every society. This paper hypothesises a relation between ethnic groups and economic levels at the global level, identifies for individual countries a representative morphological nuance and then shows that there exists a significant correlation between morphological traits and GDP per capita: the lighter, the richer; the darker, the poorer. Statistical analysis examines the magnitude of this economic inequality, and a brief histography looks at certain cultural imprints that produced it.  The paper argues that although any ethnic group may go imperial, the European conquest of the Americas was characterized by distinct characteristics and consequences.  These included Western Europe’s need to go imperial, its luck in the expansionary process, its practicing colour-coded racism and the augmenting of the resulting economic inequality by the advent of industrialism and capitalism.   

Keywords: colonialism, ethnicity, inequality, international, morphology, and racism.

  1. henry1941
    June 5, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Yes I have just noticed this. I found it disturbing. There are rich people in “poor” countries and poor people in “rich” ones.

    You only need to ask two questions.

    Who owns the land?
    What are the conditions of land tenure?

    Sweden had a land distribution in the 1680s. Denmark had a similar land reform in the nineteeth century. Both countries have a tax on land values, not enough but it helps.

    In Britain, land ownership is in the hands of a few families, plus the banks. There is no effective land value tax. Which means that the gap is getting ever wider.

    If you look at “third world” countries you will find that the more concentrated the land ownership, the bigger the gap between rich and poor. Ethnicity and skin colour are a distraction.

  2. June 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Dear Henry, have you read my article in full? Your first concern is already explicitly addressed. The second one is implicitly addressed. If you look at the land ownership and the conditions of land tenure in any country, I am sure you will discover that, unfortunately, colour is involved.

    I wish ethnicity and skin colour was “a distraction”, but there is plenty of scholarly and anecdotal evidence for the contrary.

  3. June 5, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Absolutely fantastic article. I am recommending it to students as providing exactly what Charles Mills asked for on page 36 of his “The Racial Contract”:

    “Global figures on income and property ownership are, of course, broken down nationally rather than racially, but if a transnational racial disaggregation were to be done, it would reveal that whites control a percentage of the world’s wealth grossly disproportionate to their numbers.”

    • February 28, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Thank you so much Josephus. I am glad that it spreads to even more students. And apologies for the late reply.

  4. David Chester
    February 29, 2016 at 8:42 am

    What henry1941 is claiming is that the land owners are controlling the rate of progress of the particular nation involved. They are not doing this deliberately, but rather it is a result of the amount of land value (expressed as working opportunities) that are being wasted or withheld, so that the land which is in proper use is more costly. This is because the competition for this kind of land access raises its price. Speculators in land values, such as land owners and their supporters the banks, (greedily) create and enjoy the resulting rising costs, by demanding greater rent and exchange price for the right of access to their sites. Legislation supports them and cannot be easily changed because many of those in power are also land owners.

    I suspect that skin color and ethnic background is a factor here because of the limited education that these poorer communities and countries can provide. This is a “positive feed-back” effect, where the situation gets worse with time as the amount of economic depression grows. Without better teaching standards, the poor will stay poor, and even with better schools it will take a generation for this situation to improve. The students mentioned above, would do well to study macroeconomics so that they will be able to help in the long run.

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