In Geography and the Wealth of Nations, Sherif Khalifa argues that geography influences the factors that determine economic performance, such as the quality of institutions, the adopted cultural values, the systems of governance, the likelihood of conflict, the historical experiences, and the integration into the global economy. This book discusses in detail how geographic features influence each of these factors and how these determinants, in turn, affect economic outcomes. Khalifa shows that we cannot fully comprehend the economic consequences of these factors without exploring their geographic origins. This effort is especially critical as the world faces unprecedented environmental challenges, including climate change, worsening natural disasters, resource depletion, soil degradation, deforestation, desertification, and loss of biodiversity. Given these drastic changes, this book provides powerful insight into how geographic determinants continue to shape global crises.
Sherif Khalifa is professor of economics at California State University, Fullerton.
Chapter One: The Fingerprint of Geography
Chapter Two: Climate, Crops and Capital
Chapter Three: Germs, Groups and Gender
Chapter Four: Accursed are the Blessed
Chapter Five: The Wrath of Nature
Chapter Six: Determinism versus Determination
Chapter Seven: On the Geographic Origins
Chapter Eight: Sand or Grease
Chapter Nine: Nature’s Democratic Dividend
Chapter Ten: Elixir or People’s Opium
Chapter Eleven: In (Trust) we Trust
Chapter Twelve: Me, Myself and Society
Chapter Thirteen: The Wrath and Wealth of Nations
Chapter Fourteen: Heterogeneous We Stand
Chapter Fifteen: Climbing the Social Ladder
Chapter Sixteen: Echoes from the Past
Chapter Seventeen: The Big Scramble, the Great Loot
Chapter Eighteen: In a Flat World
This book is truly breath-taking. Sherif Khalifa has not only managed to survey the entire relevant literature connecting geography, culture, religion and institutions with economic growth and development, but also makes a convincing case for geography being the primary determinant of economic development. This book is highly recommended for anybody interested in ‘the big picture’ and is mandatory reading for policy makers.
There is a huge and very influential body of literature that argues that geography profoundly matters for economic development. Geography and the Wealth of Nations masterfully summarizes and takes stock of this diverse literature while also contributing important original insights. The topics it explores run the gamut from the impact of climate to that of diseases to topsoil to natural resources. It also responds, quite convincingly, to important criticisms against the geography thesis, including the claim that geography only has an indirect effect and that its legacies are blunted by the diffusion of technology across borders. Provocatively, Sherif Khalifa argues that, even if geography works through institutions or other mediating factors to affect capital accumulation and productivity, geography also explains differences in religion, language, culture, significant historical ruptures, politics, and even ethnicity. This is a provocative and much-needed contribution to the literature on not only economic development, but also political science, anthropology, sociology, history, and, of course, geography. It is a must read!
Geography lurks everywhere in the process of economic development, but its influence is far more subtle and controversial than correlations of latitude and income per capita would suggest. Readers of all kinds, from undergraduates to experienced scholars, will therefore derive enormous benefit from Sherif Khalifa’s lucid, comprehensive discussion of the direct and indirect effects of geography on the course of economic history.
In Geography and the Wealth of Nations, Sherif Khalifa provides a wide-ranging and accessible overview of many of the major themes in economic development. For a broad set of issues, including the roles of corruption, religion, and democracy in economic growth, Khalifa outlines not only the big ideas, but also what we have learned from over three decades of research in economics. Without falling into the trap of determinism, Khalifa shows the deep and often surprising part played by geography in each of these issues and, ultimately, in economic development.