The Role of Culture in the Economic Development of Countries

Topics: Sociology, Economic development, Millennium Development Goals Pages: 10 (3291 words) Published: April 5, 2005
The role of culture in the economic development of countries is often overlooked by economists, yet it can significantly affect a country's economic development. Culture generates assets, such as skills, products, expression, and insight that contribute to the social and economic well being of the community. I will show the benefit of culture's impact on economic development through tourism, social capital, and corporate governance. In contrast, culture can produce negative outcomes in economic development. Cultural issues, such as gender inequality, lack of social capital, and diminishing cultural heritages, contribute to a downgrading economy. To understand culture's impact on a country's economic development, it is important to understand what culture is: a system of values and norms that are shared among a group of people and that when taken together constitute a design for living (Hill 98). Furthermore, it is about the way the people live, and how the quality of their lives can be improved. It shapes "the way things are done" and our understanding of why this should be so. Culture is concerned with identity, aspiration, symbolic exchange, coordination, and structures and practices that serve relational ends, such as ethnicity, rituals, heritage, norms, meanings, and beliefs. It is not a set of primitive wonders permanently embedded within national, religious, or other groups, but rather a set of contested attributes, constantly changing, both shaping and being shaped by social and economic aspects of human interaction. Economic development is fundamentally about enhancing the factors of productive capacity, such as land, labor, capital, and technology, of a national, state, or local economy, as stated by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Economic development influences growth and restructuring of an economy to enhance economic well-being. We experience economic growth when our standard of living is rising. Rather than being a simplistic process, economic development typically is a range of influences aimed at achieving objectives like creating jobs and wealth and improving the quality of life. It incorporates coordinated initiatives targeted at expanding infrastructure and increasing the volume and/or quality of goods and services produced by a community. A common measure of economic development is a country's gross national product per head of population (Hill 62).

Review of Key Arguments:
Cultural tourism is becoming an established part of national and local economic development programs across the world. Regions struggling to maintain a favorable balance of trade without the benefit of manufacturing industries sometimes find that tourism offers the only development option. A number of countries have diversified traditional tourism strategies to include the cultural experiences that tourists increasingly want. Tourism helps improve the local economy and people's living standards. This is very important for the economic development in remote and disadvantaged areas. As much as 90 percent of tourism revenue produces social income through expenditure in trade services, entertainment, food, and transport ( It also generates many new jobs with each person directly involved in tourism generally creating indirect jobs for another two people. The development of sustainable tourism will attract more people to become involved in introducing new tourism products, protecting the environment, and preserving historical and cultural sites. Many localities are becoming increasingly aware of the contributions of tourism to the increase of their GDP growth, so they have produced various investment strategies for tourism development in their regions. The strength of social capital, in the form of leadership, partnerships, and community spirit, is another important driver of economic growth and development. Social capital is a community's human wealth: the sum...

References: Hill, Charles W.L., Global Business Today. 3rd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2004.
Kaufmann, Daniel, Aart Kraay, and Pablo Zoido-Lobaton. Governance Matters. The World Bank Development Research Group Macroeconomics and Growth and World Bank Institute Governance, Regulation and Finance, October 1999.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Improving Business Behavior: Why we need Corporate Governance. Oct. 2004. OECD.
The National Conference of State Legislatures. Cultural Policy Working Group. Investing In Culture: Innovations In State Policy. The National Conference of State Legislatures: 2003.
"Tourism sector plays key role in economic development." Economics. Radio the Voice of Vietnam. 2004
United Nations. Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. Gender Mainstreaming. United Nations: Oct. 2004
United States. Department of Commerce. Economic Development Administration. United States: May 2002.
Woolcock, Michael, and Deepa Narayan. Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. World Bank, Jan 1999.
World Bank. Gender and Development Group. Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals. 4 April 2003
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