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Geography and economics, reference World Bank Indicator

2. Student Atlas of World Geography
by Christopher J. Sutton Professor

Directions: A number of social scientists, notably the economist Amartya Sen, have argued that a comparison between China and India offers a uniquely useful and telling test case of the value of democracy as a causal factor in human well-being.

Both are very large and relatively poor countries with roughly similar environmental and demographic backgrounds; the principal difference between them, according to Sen, is that India has had a democratic government (an elected legislature and a free press) since independence in 1947, while China has had a non-democratic government since (and even before) the Communist victory in 1949. Sen has argued that democracy in India has, for example, prevented large-scale famines from occurring, while non-democratic China in 1959-61 had the deadliest famine in recorded human history.

Choose a dozen useful indicators from the World Bank Featured Indicators tables that we’ve used before (link attached) to compare and contrast human well-being (including but not limited to our three key course indicators which are infant mortality and literacy rate and life span ) in these two countries.

Sum up what the two-country comparison might seem to tell us about democracy and well-being. Then, using the maps in Sutton and any relevant course materials (readings, class notes, the World Bank tables, etc.) to date, also identify and discuss any possible causes other than democracy that might provide plausible alternative explanations of any differences in well-being you observed between the two countries, explaining how and why they might do so.
Subject: Indicators | Data

Last Updated on March 9, 2020

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