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Table of Contents

  1. Topic pack - Development economics - introduction
  2. 4.1 Economic development (notes)
    1. Economic development - introduction
    2. Development - pause for thought
    3. Economic growth and economic development
    4. Sustainability
    5. The sources of economic growth and economic development
    6. Natural factors
    7. Importance of agriculture
    8. Externalities
    9. Case study - farming in Kenya
    10. Human factors
    11. Population
    12. Physical capital and technological factors
    13. Institutional factors
    14. The consequences of growth for Development
    15. Common characteristics of economically less developed countries
    16. Poverty cycle
    17. Diversity among economically less developed nations
    18. International development goals
    19. Millennium Development Goals
    20. Case Study - Millennium Development Goals
  3. 4.1 Economic development (questions)
  4. 4.2 Measuring Economic Development (notes)
  5. 4.2 Measuring development (questions)
  6. 4.3 The role of domestic factors in economic development (notes)
  7. 4.3 The role of domestic factors in economic development (questions)
  8. 4.4 The role of international trade (notes)
  9. 4.4 The role of international trade (questions)
  10. 4.5 The role of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) (notes)
  11. 4.5 The role of foreign direct investment (questions)
  12. 4.6 The role of foreign aid and multilaterial development assistance (notes)
  13. 4.6 The role of foreign aid and multilateral development assistance (questions)
  14. 4.7 The role of international debt (notes)
  15. 4.7 The role of international debt (questions)
  16. 4.8 The balance between markets and intervention (notes)
  17. 4.8 The balance between markets and intervention (questions)
  18. Print View

Natural factors

Improving the quantity and quality of land resources

Increases in the quantity of land available for agriculture will increase economic growth. However, the extent to which this happens is limited by the extent to which bush land can be converted to agricultural land (this process may have negative effects on soil erosion and quality, and contribute to deforestation globally). All economic resources are scarce and have an opportunity cost. As bush land is increasingly used for agricultural purposes, it is no longer a habitat for wildlife.

The relative scarcity of land in the face of a growing population means that the law of diminishing returns might also become relevant. This law predicts that, if an increasing amount of labour is applied to a fixed quantity of land, the marginal productivity of the labour will fall. This was the basis of the argument put forward by the Reverend Thomas Malthus. To prevent this loss in productivity, the quality of the land must be improved. This can be done through the application of better technology through improved irrigation, fertilisers and pest control.


Pause for thought

The concept of opportunity cost is an important one in economics. Production inevitably involves making sacrifices. Consider the ethical issues involved in the arguments about whether land should be used for agriculture and food production for humans or for wildlife habitats.