Paper Example on Causes and Consequences of Underdevelopment

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1459 Words
Date:  2022-05-12


Before analysing the aspect, it is crucial first to understand the concept and meaning of development. In economic dimension, development is the increase in economic growth as depicted by a rise in income per capita. However, this is not a precise definition as various factors are not considered in the description. For instance, poverty levels, unemployment, and other problems that depict translate to poor conditions are not embedded in this definition. The increased economic growth is assumed to address all these factors and thus no need to incorporate them in the description.

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Sociologically, development entails a wide range of aspects. Some of them are; industrialisation, improved standards of living, better and accessible education, good healthcare, among many others. From this definition, a country that does not have these characteristics is termed to be undeveloped or underdeveloped. However, if it can showcase these qualities but they are not well addressed, then it is referred to as underdeveloped. Underdevelopment is terminology that does not disregard the opportunity and chance to develop. It is a situation where a country does not utilise the available resources to lead to the discussed aspects of development. Politics have played a significant role in ensuring that development of many nations is not experienced. Political decisions, instability, and other issues have primarily contributed to this phenomenon.

Among the significant political causes of underdevelopment is colonialism. Therefore, to understand this notion, it is crucial that a clear and definite analysis of decolonisation is addressed. The idea became widespread when most African states were subjected to colonial administration where they exposed the colonies into a new form of government. Africans were subjected to various economic subjugations that affected their lives (Euler-Chelpin). The colonising powers mainly participated in deteriorating the African wealth by siphoning raw materials to their mother countries. In addition, these countries involved in exporting primary resources to their nations that left most African states in a position to not engage in development. Additionally, the lands were administered by rulers who were not concerned about African states development.

Another political aspect that contributed to underdevelopment is a cold war. Immediately after the world war, there grew an influence of the most potent states which made led to the birth of capitalism and communism in the global world. It is at this time when most African nations inclined to their colonies for economic and industrial support. Moreover, most countries during this era faced severe economic challenges that made most of them seek assistance from the IMF and World to get them out of the widespread crises (Euler-Chelpin). In this context, it is evident that with the inclination of most African states to their colonies and the colonialism era as well, underdevelopment grew as experienced in most countries. The current state of these countries is dependent on their metropole (Mitchell, 2002). In addition, the existing middle class were suppressed and could not engage in productive entrepreneurial activities (Euler-Chelpin). The global political tension made the affected countries plunge into an economic problem.

In addition, another political cause of underdevelopment of most countries is the lack of free will and move need for development. Most global states' leaders lack the urge to promote economic growth in their countries. Some of them are driven by the need to encourage self-interests through accumulating much wealth and enhancing their lives. Additionally, others lack the need to promote economic progress by helping an entrepreneurial culture, build a cohesive working environment to trade; both local and international, and building infrastructure that boosts economic growth. Another instance of lack of political goodwill arises where governments are not concerned about the economic progress of their countries. For example, some enact laws that may not be favourable to both private and public investors. In other cases, they may not be concerned on the environment of business operation. Therefore, when there are extreme problems that need to be addressed, the leaders may not deal with the issue fast. Political goodwill is a crucial act in most states that would be effective to promote development in any country. The lack of it translates to a lag in economic growth that ultimately leads to underdevelopment.

Another political cause of underdevelopment lies on the politico-military development that was experienced between 1500 and 1885 in Africa. At this time, African "social collectives became aware of their interests and had no option but to protect them against invasion by other communities from the outside territory (Rowdy, 1973). In this case, the state sought to arm the individuals from specific communities who would, in turn, protect them against invasion from others. The protection attempted to cover the European powers to peacefully harvest the African raw materials without interference from other forces. For instance, the Oyo and Benin were affected by this military development era. The state is primarily known for its development though it was done through coercion and force from the created military forces. In addition, the Yoruba land gained popularity, and the kingdom expanded to cover its neighbouring regions (Rodney, 1973). Later, the states started experiencing military campaigns that abducted its people, sold them as slaves, created certainty, and the dominating unity was destroyed. The other effect was a rise in refugees and quarrels that made the economic progress of these countries diminished. In short, the period was characterised by militarisation that would be a prerequisite for performing region conquests and raids (Rodney, 1973). However, this action sparked off inter-regional wars that turned the development and progress of the concerned states dismal. The creation of territorial boundaries made the state's inhabitants engage in boundary clashes and un-endless battles.

The final political cause of underdevelopment is inter-clan wars. For instance, there was the case of Rwanda, a country that is merely inhabited by two significant clans; Batutsi and the Bahutu. The nation experienced a split in its considerable tribes where the Batutsi controlled the state's politics. The other facet comprised of cultivators who constituted the most significant population (Rodney, 1973). The wars contributed to massive destructions of property, infrastructure, and loss of lives. The country was unbearable to live, and many fled to the neighbouring states. Undeniably, this contributed to economic, social, and political backwardness. It is a clear example of the political contribution to underdevelopment.

The consequences of underdevelopment are innumerable. Many intertwining factors characterise it. Above all, the affected underdeveloped countries have plunged into a problem of making self-destructive policies (Mwaura, 2007). The strategies may encompass the structural adjustment programs (SAPs), investment decisions, and market liberalisation. Most poor states always look to the international community for assistance to develop their development policies. In this case, they seek for reckless loans and other aid that make these nations spend in the most unproductive sectors preceded by wasteful expenditures. As a consequence, most states are left to wade in an increase in private assets and a massive public debt. The debts are great contributors to promoting underdevelopment (Warburton, 2005). The main reason for this is that bad debt discourages domestic and foreign investment. Investors do not risk investing in unpredicted economies, and thus such countries are left to experience development stagnation.

Additionally, the experienced civil wars contributed to tribalism in African states. For instance, in Nigeria, there was massive loss of life after Ibo's massacre by the Hausa (Rodney 1973). It was as a result of ethnic origin that made these two tribes face off and destroy their regions. Till today, most African and Asian states have remained underdeveloped as they try to overcome the effects of the civil wars that were experienced later. Other have not up to today neglected the vice. Evident examples of countries that have tribal remains are Kenya and Uganda in East Africa (Rodney 1973). Tribalism is a great inhibitor to development efforts.

Another consequence is depicted by the endless political instability and political wars in most states. Immediately after most countries gained independence, they continued to engage in political battles internally. All these cases contributed to unstable governments to make solid decisions and promote a favourable environment for economic progress. Therefore, these political wars have to a large extent affected development efforts of many global states.


All in all, underdevelopment can be linked to several political acts in many countries. Colonialism is the primary cause of backwardness in most states. In other cases, lack of political urge and goodwill to promote economic progress is another issue. As a consequence, countries face bad debts, political instability, and unstable governments to encourage development agendas.


Euler-Chelpin, V., D. Causes of Underdevelopment. International Political Economy. Retrieved from

Mitchell, T. (2002). Rule of experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. Univ of California Press.

Mwaura, N. (2007). Kenya Today: Challenges in Post-Colonial Africa. Algora Pub.

Warburton, C. E. S. (2005). The evolution of crises and underdevelopment in Africa. University Press of America.

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