When Will China and India Catch Up?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Dec 17, 2010    •    671 Views

In one wonderful 4 minute animated video, Swedish professor Hans Rosling shows us how, during 200 years, 200 countries became healthier and wealthier. The turning point for one group of nations is 1810 with the industrial revolution. The next turning point, when the rest of the world starts to catch up, is 1948. With aid, trade, and technology, Dr. Rosling says almost everyone can arrive at the healthy and wealthy upper right hand corner of his graph (where his country bubbles will migrate).

But what about the future? This takes us to Dr. Rosling describing the ascent of China and India. In his TED talk, “Asia’s Rise How and When,” statistics never seemed so fascinating as when he describes, like a sportscaster narrating a horse race, how the income positions of China, India, Japan, the U.S., and U.K. have changed since 1858 and will gradually converge. When? He says 2048.

The Economic Lesson

Dr. Rosling says India and China will continue their growth trajectory if they avoid war and encourage health, education, electricity and infrastructure. It all reminds us of David Landes and The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. In The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Dr. Landes explained why certain nations have experienced an increasingly better standard of living while others have stagnated. Among the variables he cites, physical capital which includes tools and machines, and human capital which involves education, entrepreneurship, and health, are most crucial for economic growth. Physical and human capital provide the highest ROIs (return on investment).

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