Comparative Development - Brazil vs. Mexico - Part 1
Studies of development in the past have tended to focus more on the broad picture of progress to determine whether a country has done "good" or "bad". Countries with high growth, demonstrated with such factors as a strong GDP, increased trade, and good fiscal policy are labeled "good", while others who are unable to live up to the standards set are designated as having done "bad". Details of a countries performance were viewed collectively, and only used to determine a final "one-or-the-other" designation, rather than being analyzed individually. Reality has demonstrated that a country may do some things well and not so well at others, but when analyzed using the good/bad model, if the problems outweigh the achievements, the achievements are overlooked. As Judith Tendler points out, we tend to focus more on the bad, and usually ignore the good things that may be taking within a country or region. This neglect often inhibits future growth if the improvements and strategies that promote success are ignored and there is a failure to implement those strategies in other regions or countries.
In looking at Brazil and Mexico, it would be easy to say they have done either good or bad by looking at some measure of success and determining who did better in that area. This method is a simple way of comparing two countries to determine which country has done well and which one has failed. The result would be that either Mexico or Brazil was "good" at development, while the other was "bad". For instance, if one were to simply look at Real Gross Domestic Product per Capita over a period of time, you would find that Brazil was at $3,687 in 1980 and increased to $7,745 in 2000, while Mexico began at $4,660 in 1980 and ended up at $9,711 by 2000. In this scenario, Mexico is the clear winner, increasing GDP by nearly $1,000 more per capita over the 20 years and widening the gap between itself and Brazil to $2,000. We would probably say that Mexico was "good" at economic growth, and Brazil must have done something "bad". But it is never that simple, and many other factors should be examined to make a determination as to which country has performed better. It is also useful to make determinations as to which country has done better in specific areas, and to recognize progress that has been made.
By breaking down the factors that contribute to overall economic growth, each country can be analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses, and lessons can be learned and applied to future situations.