General and economic success of a country inquiry?

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Question: 

I hope this email finds you well, I've heard a rumor on the web that the when a country's name includes the word "United" it adds to the country's success, examples such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, my question here is, can a country reach its success potential even if "United" is not in its name such as Canada, Australia, etc.? Maybe it has something to do with the way that country is governed? Thank you.

Answer: 

Thank you for bringing this rumor to our attention.  First, it would be helpful to understand what you mean by “a country’s success” or “potential”.  I suspect you may be referring to a country’s growth in income (growth in GDP/economic growth) which oftentimes is misconstrued for economic development. 

The prefix “United” simply describes a country that has been formed from two or more states or countries, which at face value has no direct bearing on its “success”. There are many factors (economic and non-economic) that contribute to a country’s success, and good governance is certainly one of those. The three countries you have identified: United Kingdom, the United States, and United Arab Emirates are, if ranked based on purely per capita income, among the top performers in the world but may be lacking in many other measures of success. The former Soviet Union (USSR), on the contrary never fared well by the rumored standards of success. Additionally, some of the wealthiest countries in the world such as Qatar, Luxembourg, Kuwait, and Switzerland are by no means “United”. You therefore need to ignore the rumors and instead investigate countries based on a broader range of factors  including per capita income, human development, colonial past, happiness, just to name a few, and not simply because they have the United prefix. You may be surprised to find that within the rumored countries there exist very high levels of poverty, inequality, low life expectancy, gender gap, low levels of education, etc. You will benefit tremendously from further readings on economic growth vs. economic development. 

 

 

Answered by:
Ebby Luvaga
Associate Teaching Professor
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Last updated on September 26, 2018