Natural Resources vs. Resourceful People
It’s official: There really IS an inverse ratio between a country’s abundance of natural resources (more specifically, that country’s dependence on drilling/mining every last drop of those resources) and the inventiveness, resourcefulness of the people in that country.
At one end of the spectrum you have Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Finland, South Korea, Israel and Hong Kong. Each one of these countries has few (in some cases, zero) natural resources, a highly educated population and a booming economy.
Qatar and Kazakhstan are at the opposite end of the spectrum: tons of oil and pisspoor test scores.
As Thomas Friedman says about Taiwan:
“Rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence.”
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has completed a study of sixty-five countries. They’ve found a solid correlation between each country’s 15-year-old students’ test scores in math, science and reading comprehension — and the percentage of that country’s G.D.P. that comes from natural resource extraction.
According to Andreas Schleicher, who oversaw the study, the results indicate:
“…a significant negative relationship between the money countries extract from natural resources and the knowledge and skills of their high school population…Today’s learning outcomes at school are a powerful predictor for the wealth and social outcomes that countries will reap in the long run.”
“In countries with little in the way of natural resources — Finland, Singapore or Japan — education has strong outcomes and a high status, at least in part because the public at large has understood that the country must live by its knowledge and skills and that these depend on the quality of education. ... Every parent and child in these countries knows that skills will decide the life chances of the child and nothing else is going to rescue them, so they build a whole culture and education system around it.”
Well, let’s be grateful that at least some of the world is on the right track.
Meanwhile, here we are, closing libraries and cutting education funding down to the marrow.
Ready now: one, two, three…Dril Heer Dril Now.