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Commodity Chain

Series of links connecting the many places of production and distribution and resulting in a commodity that is exchanged on the world market.


With response to a country, making progress in technology, production, and socioeconomic welfare.

Gross National Product

The total value of all goods and services produced by a country's economy in a given year. It includes all goods and services produced by corporations and individuals of a country; whether or not they are located within the country.

Gross National Income

Calculates the monetary worth of what is produced within a country plus income received from investments outside the country, as a more accurate way of measuring a country's wealth in the context of a global economy.

Per Capita GNI

The Gross National Product of a given country divided by its population.

Formal Economy

The legal economy that is taxed and monitored by a government and is included in a government's Gross National Product; as opposed to an informal economy

Informal Economy

Economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by a government; and is not included in that government's Gross National Product; as opposed to a formal economy.

Modernization Model

A model of economic development most closely associated with the work of economist Walter Rostow. The modernization model (sometimes referred to as modernization theory) maintains that all countries go through five interrelated stages of development, which culminate in an economic state of self-sustained economic growth and high levels of mass consumption.


The geographical situation in which something occurs; the combination of what is happening at a variety of scales concurrently


The entrenchment of the colonial order, such as trade and investment, under a new guise.

Structuralist Theory

A general term for a model of economic development that treats economic disparities among countries or regions as the result of historically derived power relations within the global economic system.

Dependency Theory

A structuralist theory that offers a critique of the modernization model of development. Based on the idea that certain types of political and economic relations (especially colonialism) between countries and regions of the world have created arrangements that both control and limit the extent to which regions can develop.


When a poorer country ties the value of its currency to that of a wealthier country, or when it abandons its currency and adopts the wealthier country's currency as its own.

World-Systems Theory

Theory originated by Immanuel Wallerstein and illuminated by his three-tier structure, proposing that social change in the developing world is inextricably linked to the economic activities of the developed world.

Three-Tier Structure

With reference to Immanuel Wallerstein's world-system's theory, the divisions of the world into the core, the periphery, and the semi-periphery as means to help explain the interconnections between places in the global economy.


When a family sends a child or an adult to a labor recruiter in hope that the labor recruiter will send money, and the family member will earn more money to send home.

Structural Adjustment Loans

Loans granted by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to countries in the periphery and the semi periphery in exchange for certain economic and governmental reforms in that country(e.g. privatization of certain government entities and opening the country to foreign trade and investment)

Vectored Diseases

A disease carried from one host to another by an intermediate host.


Vectored Disease spread by mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite in their saliva and which kills approximately 150000 children in the global periphery each year.

Export Processing Zones

Zones established by many countries in the periphery and semi-periphery where they offer favorable tax, regulatory, and trade arrangements to attract foreign trade and investment.


The term given to zones in northern Mexico with factories supplying manufactured goods to the U.S. market. The low-wage workers in the primarily foreign-owned factories assemble imported components and/or raw materials and then export finished goods.

Special Economic Zones

The specific area within a country in which tax incentives and less stringent environmental regulations are implemented to attract foreign business.

North American Free Trade Agreement

Agreement entered into by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in December 1992 and which took effect on January 1, 1994 to eliminate the barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the countries.


The encroachment of desert conditions on moister zones along the desert margins, where plant cover and soils are threatened by desiccation-though overuse, in part by humans and their domestic animals, and, possibly, in part because of inexorable shifts in the Earth's environmental zones.

Island of Development

Place built up by a government or corporation to attract foreign investment and which has relatively high concentrations of paying jobs and infrastructure.

Nongovernmental Organizations

International organizations that operate outside of the formal political arena but that are nevertheless influential in spearheading international initiatives on social, economic, and environmental issues.

Microcredit Program

Program that provides small loans to poor people, especially women, to encourage development of small businesses.

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