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Taeyoon Kim
Professor Evan Schofer
Sociology 2
20 October 2021
Country Differences in an Unequal World
Country 1 Name: South Korea
Geographical region: Located in East Asia, on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula
located out from the far east of the Asian landmass.
Population: 51.78 Million People
Was it previously colonized? (If so, note the colonial power and when it became
independent.): Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan after years of war. The country
would be considered a part of Japan until 1945 when it gained its independence.
GDP per capita: 31,489.12 USD
Main industries: The main industries include textile, steel, car manufacturing, shipbuilding and
electronics. South Korea is the world's largest producer of semiconductors.
Is the economy mainly agricultural (yes/no): No. While it is not mainly agricultural, the most
important crop in South Korea is rice, accounting for about 90 percent of the country's total grain
production and over 40 percent of farm income.
Inequality (concentration): (List the Gini score or some other measure of inequality such
as % of income going to top 20% of population): With a Gini coefficient of 0.34 on after-tax
income in 2019, South Korea's relative inequality is on the lower end of the scale.
Life Expectancy: 83.23 years
Percentage of population living in poverty: 14.4%
Percentage of men & women go to college (sometimes called "tertiary" education
enrollment): Around 73.8 percent of female high school students in South Korea enrolled in
universities, compared to only 65.9 percent of university enrollment rate of male high school
students in South Korea.
Trade as % of GDP (a measure of participation in global trade): South Korea trade to gdp
ratio for 2020 was 70.08%
Main exports/export industries: South Korea's main exports include electronic products,
machinery, motor vehicles (particularly automobiles), steel, ships, and textiles and clothing. With
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no petroleum reserves, South Korea must import substantial amounts of crude oil. Other imports
include food, machinery, chemicals, and chemical products.
FDI as % of GDP (a measure of foreign direct investment): South Korea Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI) registered a growth equal to 1.4 % of the country's Nominal GDP in Jun 2021,
compared with a growth equal to 0.6 % in the previous quarter.
Country 2 Name: Ethiopia
Geographical region:
Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and
Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south.
Population: 115 Million People
Was it previously colonized? (If so, note the colonial power and when it became
independent.): Ethiopia is actually one of the only African countries to never be colonized.
GDP per capita: 936.34 USD
Main industries: Ethiopia's major industries include agriculture, construction, manufacturing,
resources and energy, tourism, and food processing.
Is the economy mainly agricultural (yes/no): Yes. Agriculture in Ethiopia is the foundation of
the country's economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP), 83.9% of exports,
and 80% of total employment. Agriculture accounts for 46.3 percent of the nation's Gross
domestic Product (GDP), 83.9 percent of exports, and 80% of the labour force.
Inequality (concentration): (List the Gini score or some other measure of inequality such
as % of income going to top 20% of population): World Bank Estimate data was reported at
39.100 % in 2015. This records an increase from the previous number of 33.200 % for 2010.
Life Expectancy: 66.60 years
Percentage of population living in poverty: According to the analysis, poverty decreased from
30% of the population in 2011 to 24% in 2016, the year of the most recent survey on household
living standards.
Percentage of men & women go to college (sometimes called "tertiary" education
enrollment):
The percentage of men who enroll in college in Ethiopia is 11% while the percentage of women
who enroll in college in Ethiopia is only 5%.
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Trade as % of GDP (a measure of participation in global trade): Trade (% of GDP) in
Ethiopia was reported at 24.02 % in 2020, according to the World Bank collection of
development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.
Main exports/export industries: In 2019, Ethiopia's major goods exports included coffee
(28.7%), cut flowers (14.1%), oil seeds (11.5%), chat (10.9%), pulses (7.9%), gold (6.6%),
leather and leather products (2.4%).
FDI as % of GDP (a measure of foreign direct investment): In 2019, net FDI inflows (% of
GDP) for Ethiopia was 2.6 %.
Standard of Living:
I decided to compare and contrast the two countries South Korea and Ethiopia because
they both have meaning to me personally. I was born in South Korea so it made sense for me to
choose it while choosing Ethiopia was mainly because I love Ethiopian coffee. Looking at the
statistical differences between South Korea and Ethiopia, there are many things that show a large
gap between the two countries in terms of wealth. First off, the population of Ethiopia far
exceeds that of South Korea by more than double however the GDP per capita for South Korea is
31,489.12 USD while Ethiopia is 936.34 USD. For having double the population, the difference
in GDP per capita is almost unbelievable. The percentage of poverty is 14.4% in South Korea
and around 24% in Ethiopia.
The difference in life expectancy is also very extreme with Korea’s being 83.23 years and
Ethiopia’s being 66.60 years. This definitely has to do with the difference and lack in health care
in Ethiopia due to the difference in wealth of the two countries. The main industries include
textile, steel, car manufacturing, shipbuilding and electronics. South Korea is the world's largest
producer of semiconductors. Ethiopia's major industries include agriculture, construction,
manufacturing, resources and energy, tourism, and food processing. It is very clear from this that
South Korea definitely has the upper hand in the industry and is their main source of income.
Around 73.8 percent of female high school students in South Korea enrolled in universities,
compared to only 65.9 percent of university enrollment rate of male high school students in
South Korea while in Ethiopia, the percentage of men who enroll in college is 11% while the
percentage of women who enroll in college is only 5%. South Korea clearly places an extreme
emphasis on the importance of education with such a high percentage of the population pursuing
higher education. This factor definitely plays a large role in the economic wealth of South Korea
versus the overall poverty of Ethiopia.
There is also the main difference between the two countries in that agriculture in Ethiopia
is the foundation of the country's economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP),
83.9% of exports, and 80% of total employment. Agriculture accounts for 46.3 percent of the
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nation's Gross domestic Product (GDP), 83.9 percent of exports, and 80% of the labour force.
South Korea’s economy however, is not based solely on agriculture and is more focused on the
technology and modernization industry instead.
Personal Reaction:
The income differences between South Korea and Ethiopia were much more extreme
than I would have ever expected. I did not expect the two countries to have such a high
difference in GDP per capita with Ethiopia having double the population of South Korea. It is
overwhelming to me that double the population of South Korea can live off such a small amount
of income in the country. Being a college student with parents who support me, if I had to live
with an income that was typical of the less affluent country, my lifestyle would be very different
from what it is right now. I would not be able to afford college or even basic transportation. I
would most likely be struggling to meet daily essentials and needs and would definitely become
stuck in a never ending cycle of poverty. If I lived in a less affluent country such as Ethiopia, I
think that I may be willing to leave family and friends behind for the economic opportunities in a
more affluent country as I would not wish to be stuck in a constant cycle of poverty and would
want to break that cycle eventually. It would be an extremely difficult decision to make but it
would be one that I would be forced to make.
Photo From Each Country:
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