Countries of the world are divided into rich and poor. But why is it so that rich countries are always rich and poor ones are always poor? The question can be answered with the help of a very interesting peculiarity of those countries that are ranked among the rich ones. Particularly, rich countries are situated in areas of colder climates.
Economists and co-authors of this theory, William Masters from Perdue University and Margaret McMillan from Tufts University say that a cold climate plays two important roles: it makes for the increase of agricultural and construction productiveness of those countries situated in moderate climate zones and saves people from diseases typical of warmer areas, malaria for example.
Starting their investigation with ancient times, the scientists noticed differences between people living in the tropics and those living in moderate climate areas. Even in 350 B.C., Greek philosopher Aristotle said: “People living in a cold climate are full of spirit.”
Since the time of Adam Smith (when the development of economic sciences started), people have been pondering over the question why some countries of the world are rich and others are poor. It is astonishing, but poor countries are situated in warm climate zones in the tropics, and the majority of rich countries are in the moderate and subtropical belts. Certainly, some exceptions do exist and they can be easily explained. For example, poverty of North Korea and Mongolia can be explained with a totalitarian regime and their isolation from the main world. The low density of the Mongolian population on a rather vast territory; desert and arid lands that are bad for agriculture are additional factors that aggravate the situation in Mongolia. On the other hand, some more or less rich city-states situated in the tropics like Hong Kong and Singapore are rich because they are also commercial centers founded due to developed countries, England particularly.
This very reason is also a stimulus for prosperity of some countries situated in warm areas, for example Australia and the South African Republic. As we see from the recent events in South African Republic, the economic strength of the country was concentrated on a small coastal territory, the place where only the white population originating from Britain lived under Apartheid. As soon as local population took over after Apartheid and the white population started emigrating to developed western countries, the South African Republic began to degrade and economically decline.
Investigators analyzed factors beneficial for rich countries and understood that cold weather was the key stimulus for the development of their economies. Cold weather influences the economic development in the following way: countries of a moderate climate historically had less diseases and worse conditions for agriculture development. Unlike in the tropics where harvest could be gathered four times a year, it was possible to gather harvest only once a year there.
That is why cold winter strengthened people’s immune system and their lifespan that at the same time made for accumulation of knowledge, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, frosts made people improve agriculture and construction sphere to adapt houses to the winter weather. Although the economic strength of developed countries is not based on agriculture, investigators say that successful agriculture in the past is of significant historical influence, as it helps nations accumulate and form their scientific and technical basis.
The theory is substantiated by many historical factors. For example, since the founding of the USA and before the US civil war, the country got clearly divided into industrial north and weakly developed agricultural south where slavery was the norm.
A warm climate does not stimulate the development and perfection of labor conditions and agriculture. People probably think that if everything grows and harvests can be gathered without much effort, why should they change anything. Over the epoch of global colonialism in the 18-20th centuries (before the World War I), countries that had many colonies in Africa and South-Eastern Asia stuck to this very opinion. At the same time, the young countries of Europe and the USA, which did not have any colonies, had to develop at the expense of their domestic resources by stimulating industry and economy.
Thus, by the time World War I started, countries that developed economies with the help of scientific and technical reserves (Germany, the USA, and Japan) appeared on the market together with the largest colonial powers, England and France. However, while England and France were in stagnation and accumulated gold earned by slaves in the colonies, the new countries worked on development of their industrial and economic strength. As a result, by the beginning of World War I, the Entente countries (to which England, France, and Russia belonged) were not ready for war, unlike Germany and its ally.
Translated by Maria Gousseva