Work and Play in Developing Countries vs. Developed Countries

In most developing countries, where the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is about $1,600, such as Kenya, the majority of the people still live of off their land in rural areas, where they generally have to work long hours almost every day without the comfort of resting. And only a few work in urban areas, which still requires them to work long hours for meager wages and salaries, in most cases, with no benefits.

Most of them work from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, for almost eleven months out of the whole year, and they only get one vacation in the month of December for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. That may sound rather exhausting, working long hours either farming or in some manufacturing jobs, which is generally normal for most of them, but with a low salary, and no medical or retirement plans. But because their overall livelihood depends on maintaining the same work routines, they are forced to work in that kind of environment without any motivational incentives but to make a living any way they can.

Due to a high rate of unemployment in most developing countries, most people, especially those with no high school education, let alone college education, have no luxury of changing jobs anytime they want in order to get paid an exuberant amount of wages, because finding a job, any kind of job, may be due to luck for most, and thus leaving or changing a job to find a better paying job may be harder, if not nearly impossible.

They have to work long hours, nearly 48 weeks out of the whole year, just to earn enough to send their kids to school and buy a few necessities, such as loaf of breads, sugar, rice, salt and butter. Taking a vacation and go on a family trip for them may be something that’s unheard off, due to the fact that their wages barely enables them to afford paying for their living expenses.

On the other hand, in developed countries such as the United States, where the GDP per capita income is around $47,500, with nearly 90 percent of the workforce are enjoying full employment, more and more people have more options of what kind of employment they want or where to work. During the high performance of economic activities, unlike the current Great Recession, most Americans enjoy the best of what they do for living. They are able to select what work shifts they want to work and also chose what companies they want to work for, and still enjoy the benefits of a good resting, plenty of vacation days, and still earn a good living.

In general, most people when looking for work, not only that the salary becomes the main factor for choosing the work place, but also the time off; in terms of the number of vacation days, paid sick leaves and holidays have become the determinant factors of choosing where and when to work.

“However, in recent years, since around the early 1990’s, with the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), most of the US companies have started outsourcing manufacturing jobs to low wage countries such as Mexico, and most of South East Asia, such as China and India” (Simon Kapenda).

This has caused a major problem for blue-collar workers in the US, because as their jobs are being shifted overseas, they are becoming more and more unemployed and they are forced to work for certain low paying jobs with low vacation days and benefits.

In return, as more and more jobs are outsourced overseas, the manufactured goods, made by overseas’ low paid workers, are then returned for sale to the US consumers. And then the very same companies end up recruiting a more experienced and college educated workforce to handle the selling and marketing of those goods that were manufactured in overseas countries. Those who get employed as a result of outsourced jobs, still end up earning high salaries and great paid vacations and sick leaves.

As a result, high productive and well paid employees have more money left after paying their household expenses to take special family trips and vacations to different areas of the world. Some travel to as far as to developing countries as tourists, which again, helps boost tourism activities in those countries.

The majority of the people in countries with a high GDP income per capita, have more residual income to spend on different life entertaining activities such as going out to movie theaters, fine dining, special holiday shopping sprees, video gaming systems, and home entertainment systems, such as extra flat TV screens in each room, DVD and Blu Ray systems, plus lots of food to choose what to eat at any given moment.

Unlike in most developing economies, the majority of the people don’t have the luxury of chosing what to eat on any given day, or what to wear, where to go on a vacation, or let alone; having more than one TV set at home.

Work and play as the main focus for this article may not necessarily mean for someone to simply go to work and play afterwards. It means more than just that, and the personal income for anyone, anywhere, determines one’s ability to enjoy the full benefits of working and playing; and that is, how and when to spend time with the family, going out to grocery stores, and pay household bills, all without being stressed. Everything else becomes an icing on the cake.

Therefore, in today’s globalized economy, developing countries must look to integrate their monetary economies in order to vastly compete with the world’s fast expanding markets. Europe has integrated their monetary economy, the US, Canada and Mexico have tabled the same issue to combine their monetary economies, and Africa needs to look at doing so right about now.

Furthermore, developing countries also need to move and shift away, right now, from agricultural based economy to industrial economy in order to help improve the quality of the lives of their citizens. Some of the redundant things that prevent attracting industrial investments in developing countries, is the business setup processes.

It takes as much as less than an hour to register and incorporate a business in the US and start with the business activities at the very same time, while it may take up to six months to register and organize to set up a business, of course after paying bribes and kick backs, in some of the developing countries.

Thus, streamlining business setup processes and root out corruption in these countries could be the major steps to moving from agrarian economies to industrial economies.

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