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International Relations scholars appear to disagree on the causes of economic underdevelopment, and unequal distribution of wealth among states. Neo-Marxist scholars explain these inequalities through a systemic theory, focusing on a world system that benefits some states disproportionally. Others argue that the causes of economic underdevelopment are to be found in unit-level attributes. Which of these two examples do you find most compelling? Why?

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The causes of economic underdevelopment and unequal distribution of wealth among states is a complex and contested issue. There is no single explanation that is universally accepted by international relations scholars.

Neo-Marxist scholars argue that the current international system is based on a world-system that benefits some states disproportionately. This world-system is characterized by a core of wealthy states that exploit a periphery of poor states. The core states control the means of production and the global financial system, while the periphery states are dependent on the core for investment and trade. This system of exploitation creates and perpetuates economic underdevelopment in the periphery.

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Unit-level attributes scholars argue that the causes of economic underdevelopment are to be found in the characteristics of individual states. These characteristics include things like political instability, corruption, and a lack of investment in education and infrastructure. These factors make it difficult for states to develop their economies and compete in the global market.

I find the neo-Marxist explanation to be more compelling. It provides a more holistic explanation for economic underdevelopment that takes into account the historical, political, and economic factors that have shaped the current international system. The unit-level attributes explanation is too simplistic and does not account for the way that the global system disadvantages poor states.

However, I believe that both explanations have some merit. The neo-Marxist explanation is helpful in understanding the big picture, but the unit-level attributes explanation can be helpful in understanding the specific challenges that individual states face. Ultimately, I believe that a combination of both explanations is necessary to understand the causes of economic underdevelopment and unequal distribution of wealth among states.

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