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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): the heart of geography
An introduction to Superpower Geographies
A new recipe for economic development
A Shrinking World
Aid and influence
Arab awakening
Baby steps for China
Building a nation: South Sudan one year on
Building BRICS
Cars: The global business of Britain is back on track
Celebrating new appropriate technology
China and North Korea: Regional economic cooperation
Chocolate spread over
Credit Crunch Geography
Factors influencing the success of pastoral farming in developing countries
Fast Food Farmers
Fast Food Geography
Follow the thing: Papaya
Geography, power and the Olympics
Global flows
Global motorization, social ecology and China
Global production networks
Hello South Sudan
India - Change and challenge for a new superpower
Inequality and its management
Kinky boots
Life transitions and care in sibling-headed households affected by AIDS in Tanzania and Uganda
Making music in the global economy
Measuring International Corruption and its Impacts
Rio+20: A global evaluation of sustainable development
Supermarket Sweep
Surfs up!
The BRICs are coming: Will Brazil ever arrive?
The Congo Wars: geography NOT in the news
The Deepwater Horizon, the Mavi Marmara, and the dynamic zonation of ocean space
The geography of gold
The horsemeat scandal and other food geographies
Two views on the growth of China
The Nicaraguan trans-oceanic canal
International Women’s Day 2017
The US presidential election 2016
What is Brexit? The UK and EU relationship 2017

A new recipe for economic development

Some countries and international organisations are changing the methods they use to measure and compare national wealth. Might the global development map need to be re-drawn as a result?

A new recipe for economic development

Calculating a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is like baking a cake: there is a recipe you are supposed to follow so that you can make comparisons between countries. However, as the economies of many countries grow and become more complex their GDP recipes are changing.

For example, across African countries agriculture was previously always one of the most important ingredients. But times are changing across the continent. Telecoms, services, media and manufacturing are all now booming. Recently, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana all introduced a new set of GDP calculations, bringing staggering rises in each case – with Nigeria’s GDP doubling, making it Africa’s largest economy. Kenya’s rise requires its re-classification as a middle-income country. Parallel to this, the World Bank has modified how it adjusts GDP figures for the purpose of making international comparisons. New formulae are being used that better reflect the varying cost of living in different countries. As a result of these accounting changes, China, previously worth two-thirds of the USA, is now poised to take the number one spot as the world’s largest economy! India has jumped from sixth to third place, overtaking Japan and Germany at a stroke. From a development studies perspective, these are clearly very important changes to be aware of.


This online article will help A-level and Diploma students who are studying economic development. A critical look is taken at some of the ways in which quantitative data about economic development are collected and manipulated.

In the Members' Area:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • African countries recalculate how their GDP is measured
  • The World Bank changes how GDP comparisons are made
  • Re-drawing the global poverty map
  • Do we need a new poverty line?
  • Thinking critically about quantitative measures of development

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