Exam-style Questions: World Development

  1. "Aid has done more harm than good to those countries most in need of assistance." To what extent do you agree with this statement?

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    15 marks means about half an hour to answer.

    The question is asking you to evaluate the policies of aid. For instance, the good points and the bad points. Even if you totally agree or disagree with the statement your answer should explore both sides of the argument. If you do not then you will not be able to get full marks.

    To get the highest marks...

    • You should show that you have a good knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of giving aid. You can relate these to the different types of aid.
    • You should show that you can see the whole picture i.e. demonstrate in your answer that you realise that any one country is likely to experience a whole combination of advantages and disadvantages.
    • You should refer to specific examples and make sound conclusions.

    When discussing the advantages and disadvantages you could refer to any of the following...

    Advantages of Aid:

    • Provide emergency relief in times of disaster
    • Can be used to stimulate the economy if channelled in the right way. This could be on a large national scale or, just as effectively at a very small local scale using intermediate or appropriate technology
    • Donors often insist on certain structural reforms that can be of benefit to the country, for example insisting on democratic elections
    • Money can be directed towards social programmes such as increasing awareness of family planning or raising the status of women.
    • Aid can be in the form of technical or scientific support working co-operatively with local people on small-scale projects such as health/ sanitation initiatives or education programmes.
    • Aid can provide money for projects that the country might otherwise not have been able to afford - a hydroelectric power station for example.

    Disadvantages of Aid:

    • If corruption exists in the recipient country then the Aid payments may not find there way to those in need but instead support an undemocratic regime.
    • Aid can be spent on prestige projects like a major international airport, which is of little or no benefit for the most needy. Other large scale projects have had adverse effects on the economy, environment or society. The hydroelectric dam mentioned earlier can have devastating effects on the environment and people.
    • Aid relief such as food packages can stifle any emergent farming industries or market as food prices would be driven right down.
    • Technical support from the developed world is not necessarily geared towards the countries needs.
    • A country can become dependant on Aid as there is little incentive for them to fend for themselves.
    • Aid payments are insignificant when compared to the amount of loan repayments developing world countries pay to the developed world everyday. Often countries have to do all they can just to repay the interest.
    • Aid is often directed at urban areas so the most needy miss out. This also encourages urbanisation.

    You should discuss several (about four good points and four bad points) of the arguments for and against including references to examples.

    (Marks available: 15)

  2. a) Define the term 'Gross domestic product'.

    (2 marks)

    b) With reference to the table below describe and explain the relationship between Gross domestic product and infant mortality.

    (12 marks)

    Country: Gross Domestic Product US$ per capita: Infant mortality (number of children per thousand who die before their fifth birthday):
    Sweden 21155 7
    Mexico 2102 51
    Italy 14432 11
    India 335 145
    Mozambique 78 297

    (Marks available: 14)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    a) A good definition would be:

    "Gross domestic product is the total value of all goods and services produced within a given country for the given year. It is usually measured in US$ to allow easy comparison between countries and can be divided by the total population to give a 'per capita' figure."

    (2 marks)

    b) Firstly, always remember to quote figures from the table to support your answer - the examiner will give marks for this.

    You need to do two things to answer this question:

    • Describe the pattern shown in the table.

    (4 marks)

    • Explain why that pattern exists.

    (8 marks)

    The pattern is that as GDP increases so infant mortality falls. To get full marks quote figures to prove this example:

    "Sweden has the highest GDP at $21 155 per capita and the lowest levels of infant mortality just 7 per thousand. Mozambique has the lowest level of GDP at just $78 per capita and an infant mortality rate of 297 per thousand this supports the relationship where the higher the GDP, the lower the infant mortality."

    Now to explain why the pattern exists. Remember GDP measures the Goods and Services produced within a country. Therefore if it is low it will mean that the country is producing very little. This would include services such as health care. If the provision of health care is very low then a high rate of infant mortality will be a consequence. You should consider the following when writing your answer...

    • High GDP indicates a good provision of health care. Low GDP indicates poor provision of health care. This will affect the level of treatment available and also the ability to vaccinate children
    • A low GDP also indicates a lack of development and therefore a dependency on subsistence farming so food supply cannot be guaranteed
    • A high GDP indicates a good level of development and significant money to invest in sanitation systems and water provision. What about a low GDP?
    • A high GDP will usually occur as a result of high levels of employment. Therefore people will have money to invest in housing

    You should discuss these factors with reference to the data from the table quoting figures when necessary.

    (Marks available: 14)

  3. Why do some countries in the developing world continue to export primary products whilst others are exporting a significant amount of manufactured goods?

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 3

    There are two main areas to focus on:

    • Explain the reasons why some countries (mainly African) are still exporting primary products.
    • Explain why some developing world countries are now exporting a significant percentage of manufacture goods.

    To get the highest marks you need to talk about specific countries.

    Reasons why many countries still only export primary products include...

    • The climate and or soil is favourable to agricultural production
    • They have significant quantities of natural resources
    • The colonial infrastructure is skewed towards the export market
    • They have established trade patterns with their former colonial power

    In addition changing to a more manufacturing based economy is difficult because

    • They have few resources to invest in the necessary technology. This is partly due to the pressures of debt repayment.
    • The transport infrastructure is inadequately developed and poorly maintained
    • The labour force does not possess the necessary skills
    • The developed world puts heavy tariffs on some imported product to protect their domestic industries

    Having discussed these factors with reference to examples for approximately half the marks you should then look at the reasons behind the successes of some of the countries in the developing world.

    We are really talking about the newly industrialised countries and specifically the reasons behind their success. These reasons include...

    • Some have significant domestic capital due to favourable environmental conditions. Brazil and coffee for example.
    • Government investment in import substitute industries to establish a strong domestic economy.
    • Once the above is well established the government then encourage industries that will first mimic then improve on existing products for sale to the developed world.
    • These countries are very competitive as labour cost are very low
    • Multinational corporations also locate in these countries because of the low costs.
    • The workforce is often very compliant. In Singapore for example there is no social benefits system so everybody has to find a job.
    • Some of these countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong are strategically well located being near the huge markets of China and India.

    Discuss at least four of these factors with reference to specific example and you are on your way to full marks.

    (Marks available: 15)

  4. a) Describe the different types of indicator that can be used to measure a country's levels of development.

    (8 marks)

    b) Why should we always take care when using any indicator of development?

    (8 marks)

    (Marks available: 16)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 4

    a) 8 marks so about 16 minutes to answer.

    For four marks you should identify and describe four of the following or similar:

    • Per capita income
    • GDP per capita
    • Infant mortality
    • Birth rates
    • Death rates
    • Calorie intake per capita
    • Literacy rates

    Make sure you explain how they measure development.

    For the second four marks you need to show knowledge of multi-criteria indicators such as the 'Human Development Index' or 'Human Suffering Index'

    b) 8 marks - 16 minutes to answer.

    You need to show that you realise many of the indicators of development have disadvantages.

    For 4 to 6 marks evaluate 2 or 3 indicators explaining that this is why we must use caution. For example you could use some of the advantages or disadvantages outlined in this table:

    Gross Domestic Product
    Advantages: Disadvantages:
    A useful figure for comparing countries. Often used to rank countries to establish a fair system of aid payments Can hide inequalities as it does not show the distribution of wealth
    Is a good indicator of the state of the economy and provision of services Can be manipulated by governments who want to appear poor to collect more aid
    Fairly easy to calculate from official government figures Does not take into account subsistence or informal economies which are very important in less developed countries

    For the extra 2 marks discuss the issues of using a system of developed world ideals to measure development in the developing world. For example, the road to our development is very much at the expense of the environment whether it be pollution or deforestation - is this really what we should all be aiming for? Alternatively, many cultures put little value on material wealth.

    (Marks available: 16)