free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 46. WILL PEAK OIL HIT THE POOREST COUNTRIES THE WORST?

Monday, August 22, 2005


No. It will first strike countries in the mid-range between rich and poor. All of the countries currently suffering from severe oil problems (Nicaragua, the Philippines, Indonesia, Zimbabwe) seem to fit a similar profile. They have one foot in traditional agriculture, and one foot in modern petroleum culture (source for nation statistics: New York Times Almanac, 2004):

GDP per capita: $2,500
Labor force: 43% services, 42% agriculture, 15% industry

GDP per capita: $4,200
Labor force: 39.8% agriculture, 19.4% government services, 17.7% services, 10.2% unemployment

GDP per capita: $3,100
Labor force: 45% agriculture, 16% energy, 39% services, 10.6% unemployment

GDP per capita: $2,400
Labor force: 66% agriculture, 10% industry, 24% services

There are about 188 countries in the world, and the above countries rank as follows in terms of GDP/capita:

Nicaragua: 128
Philippines: 104
Indonesia: 116
Zimbabwe: About 127 Source

As you can see, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Indonesia and Zimbabwe all fall roughly in the middle (to lower middle) in terms of wealth ranking. If the nations were collapsing in order of poverty, we would expect the most serious problems to arise in countries like:

Afghanistan (ranking 171)
GDP per capita: $700
Labor force: 80% agriculture and animal husbandry. 10% services and other, 10% industry

Malawi (ranking 177)
GDP per capita: $670
Labor force: 86% agriculture

Mali (ranking 163)
GDP per capita: $860
Labor force: 80% agriculture, 19% services

The countries at the bottom (like the three given above) are already living in post-petroleum culture, and thus are largely immune to peak oil. Toward the bottom of the middle range you have countries which are only half committed to petroleum culture. They're still close enough to their agricultural roots to "drop out" and fall back on them.

For reference, compare with the labor pattern typical of a rich developed country like the UK:

United Kingdom (ranking 19):
GDP per capita: $25,300
Labor force: 74% services, 25% industry, 1% agriculture, 5.2% unemployment


At Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 6:40:00 AM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

Countries like Indonesia are hurting in the recent run-up in crude prices because their fuel is hevily subsidized to suit the economy there, which pays people a lot less than they pay workers in developed nations.

The scaled down price is now out of whack with the wage structure there, causing the problems which we are now seeing in that corner of the world.

At Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 9:35:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you are well!


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