Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography

What does the future hold for town centres?

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Ollie Robinson, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

In order to try and predict a future for the high street, this report will cover its current state and look at whether or not it’ll be able to adapt. In order to survive, the high street will need to reinvent itself, moving its focus on its social aspects. 

Firstly, why is the high street declining? There are three main reasons: 

  1. The high street faces steep competition. Online shopping as well as large out of town stores have been taking customers away from the high street due to their superior convenience and price. 
  1. Poor infrastructure of town centres has been affecting the high street, in the sense of there being not enough parking and expensive public transport, making shopping at the high street even less convenient. 
  1. The high cost of running a physical store means it’s hard for stores to compete with alternatives such as online shopping pricewise. 

All these factors are putting more financial pressure on high street stores, causing many of them to shut. 

So how can the high street tackle its competition? Firstly, the high street could try to match the online stores in price and convenience. This has been attempted by large chain companies through integrating technology with the high street but even their sales have been diminishing. Small high street stores that are already under a lot of financial pressure couldn’t compete with online stores, with any attempt being too expensive. 

Physical stores can’t match their competition. However, there are ways the high street can still compete: 

Firstly, the existence of service stores such as hairdressers may ensure some future for the high street, as we need these stores and need them to be physical. 

Secondly, the social aspects of the high street and face to face interaction is another way the high street can’t be matched by online shopping. The high street’s shift towards social features is a way it can survive and is something that’s already happening. Coffee shops, gyms and pubs (all social stores) have been growing despite the high street’s decline. Similarly, experience-based stores such as theatres stand out as another aspect of the high street that can’t be replicated online. 

One case study is Bristol. In 2008, the shopping centre Cabot Circus was opened in the town. Additionally, more investment was put into the nightlife venues of Bristol’s high street. These are both examples of emphasising social aspects of the high street and these changes were incredibly successful for Bristol’s high street.  

In conclusion, the high street is facing difficulties. Emphasising the social aspects of the high street has been shown to work in strengthening it. The future of the high street could depend on the level of intervention the government is willing to put into facilitating these changes, although the fact that these changes are happening naturally suggests there is a future for the high street as a social hub. 

To read Ollie’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography Law & Politics

USA vs New Zealand: To what extent do their national flags represent their population?

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Matthew Kassir, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: < 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

For centuries, flags have formed a major part of our national identity, a symbol for which we belong to and believe in. As times changes, so do nations, and this report looks at two topical, yet different flags, namely those of the United States and New Zealand; assessing to what extent these flags still accurately represent their population, and whether a change is due?

Arguably, The Star-Spangled Banner is one of the most compelling symbols of national pride in this world, with the rich history it entails, and its projected message of ‘the American dream’; the post-colonial flag, historically, has been synonymous with the strong patriotism of its citizens. However, as we see more controversies shroud the nation every year, in relation to racial and ethnic equality, Americans demand change – a change so drastic that a new symbol of their nation is vital? 

On the other hand, this report examines the flag of New Zealand, looking closely at the referendum in 2016, and how even though all roads led change for the pre-colonial symbol, 56% of voters decided this outdated and possibly discriminative flag should still represent their national identity. Whether that be due to respect for their fallen soldiers, or even the economic cost of changing it, the report will ask why the flag has not changed, and if it realistically ever should?

To view Matthew’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities Economics Geography Lower School Social Sciences

Have receiving countries benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative?

This long-read article was written by second former Gavin Sivakumaran.

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a $1,300,000,000 plan which was initiated by Xi Jinping, the President of China in 2013. Various nations in Africa, Asia and Europe are interconnected with China through land and oceanic networks like highways, seaports and railroads. More than 65 have signed up to the Initiative, to strengthen globalisation across the world, develop economies and infrastructure in countries that are struggling, and open world trade. In this essay, I will judge whether the receiving countries have benefited from China’s Belt and Road Initiative economically and socially. I will look at the projects that have happened in the country, how successful they were and how much debt the country has to China. I will also conclude whether countries have benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative. 

In 2010, China had partially moved out of the manufacturing sector, so it experienced a growth decline. So, the Government thought that investing in other countries could create a lot of money because if the country grows very quickly and pays back loans and interest to China, China could earn a lot of money. However, many critics of the BRI state that China is using the BRI to increase leverage over LICs countries and making them depend on China for their development, leading to China becoming the next global superpower. 

Sri Lanka is one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Hambantota Port, a maritime port, was built by China Harbour Engineering Company and with Chinese loans. It was built because more than 23,000 ships pass Hambantota (a district in Sri Lanka), so it would be a good location to load, dock and refuel ships, and would hopefully generate a lot of money. As the port incurred heavy losses, making debt repayment difficult, in 2016 the newly-elected government, led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, decided to privatise an 80% stake of the port and give it to China Merchants Port Holdings Co. for $1.1 billion on a 99-year lease, to raise foreign exchange. The port was built by Chinese people and the shipping workers who work there are mainly Chinese people. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is another example of an infrastructure project that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Although Sri Lanka was able to pay for the airport, it had a low number of flights, so it has been dubbed as ‘The World’s Emptiest Airport.’ In addition to this, China has built many factories, highways and power plants in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has not been able to pay back for all of these. As of 2020, there is still an ongoing project called Colombo International Financial Centre better known as Port City Colombo, which will be an environmentally sustainable SEZ (Special Economic Zone), costing $15 billion and is what the Sri Lankan Government believes will generate enough money to pay off all Sri Lanka’s debt and attract top international investors. Most of the construction workers that are working on this project are Chinese but China promises that the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) will create 80,000 new jobs when completed for Sri Lankans. In Sri Lanka, the economic gains from the BRI are less obvious since most of the projects have been given back to China or have not received their full potential; they can be described as a ‘white elephant,’ which means a non-valuable object which its owner cannot easily dispose of. Additionally, social gains are also not obvious because most of the people building the infrastructure in Sri Lanka are Chinese and they also dominate the number of people who work in these projects after construction (shipping workers etc.). Therefore, the BRI has not been beneficial in Sri Lanka. 

Maldives is also one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Under the Presidency of Abdullah Yameen, Maldives undertook many China-funded projects. This includes the expansion of their only airport, the construction of several resorts and the construction of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge, which is a bridge that interconnects the island of the capital of Maldives, Malé with the island in which Velana International Airport (Maldives’s only airport) is located. This bridge brought economic and social benefits to the Maldives. Before the bridge was constructed, travellers would have to travel by boat to reach the capital. This bridge allowed taxi drivers in Malé to pick up fares from Velana International Airport. Also, the building of several resorts has created jobs for the locals in the Maldives. In 2018, Maldives owed $600m directly to China (which they have borrowed for housing, the expansion of the airport and the construction of bridges) and was liable for another $935m of guaranteed loans (which they have borrowed for power infrastructure, building resorts and road infrastructure). Altogether, debt to China amounted to one-third of their GDP in 2019. This shows that the Maldives has not benefited economically. Socially, jobs have been created from resorts built by China and taxi drivers have been able to earn more because they can now pick up fares from Velana Airport. Consequently, the BRI has been quite beneficial to the Maldives. 

Pakistan is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2013, CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) was introduced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to further enhance connectivity between the two countries. China and Pakistan are such good friends that during Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, he stated ‘This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my brother.’ CPEC projects that have already built and that are still being built include several hydropower projects, a railway linking the cities of Karachi and Peshawar, a freight railway linking Kunming and Karachi, Gwadar Port, Gwadar Port City (which includes a coal plant and hospital) and Gwadar International Airport. Most of the people who are building these projects are Chinese workers. $17 billion was owed to China by Pakistan by 2020 (6.25% of GDP that year). In Gwadar, China’s promises of better infrastructure and job creation have not materialised. Most of the people who work in Gwadar Port are Chinese and most Pakistanis living in Gwadar fear that once the Gwadar Port project is finished, they won’t be able to work there, because they think that Chinese workers will be brought to work there. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has raised the expatriate population, which has grown from 20,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in 2018. Also, the Pakistanis in Gwadar cannot continue fishing (the main economic activity in Gwadar) because land reclamation cuts their access to the sea. In 2020, China built a joint naval and air force base in Pakistan. Economic benefits are not apparent because Pakistan has huge sums of debt to China. Furthermore, social gains are less obvious because the people of Gwadar cannot continue their jobs of fishing due to land reclamation for Gwadar Port and they fear that the jobs created by CPEC will be taken by the Chinese expatriate population entering the country. Therefore, the BRI has not benefited Pakistan. 

Kazakhstan is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With the help of China, Kazakhstan has built a multimillion-dollar land port, special economic zone and town with the help of China. All of this was built near the most landlocked, remote place on Earth called the Eurasian Point of Inaccessibility. Kazakhstan and China chose this area to lure manufacturers to the area that might want to take advantage of an overland shipping route to Europe, establishing Kazakhstan as a logistics and manufacturing hub. The infrastructure projects that China has built in Kazakhstan are on the border between the two countries, next to the Xinjiang Province in China. The land port (Khorgos Land Port) is the largest land port in the world. Once the port was built it didn’t attract many clients. Recently, there has been a steady increase, due to heavy subsidies given by the Chinese Government to companies that use the route. Additionally, less cargo has come back from Europe due to the trade imbalance. Looking at how ambitious the Kazakhstan and Chinese Governments were about the project, their predictions have been very higher than reality. Khorgos Land Port had 160,000 TEU of cargo going through the port in 2019. To put that into perspective, Shanghai, the world’s busiest port, had 43.3 million TEU of cargo going through the port in 2019. That is roughly 270 times Khorgos’s amount. Economic gains in Kazakhstan are quite clear because there has been an increase in clients using the Khorgos port. Consequently, the BRI has been quite beneficial to Kazakhstan. 

UK is one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Yiwu-London freight train was launched in January 2017. As of 2018, the network had expanded to cover 48 Chinese cities and 42 European destinations, delivering goods between China and Europe. This railway line has not only boosted China – UK trade but has also increased China-Europe. Figures show that nearly 3000 trains between January and April 2020, carrying roughly 262,000 TEU. Economic gains in the UK are very clear due to the increase in trade from the BRI. Therefore, the BRI has benefited the UK. 

Djibouti is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Data shows that in 2020, Djibouti’s debt to China accounted for more than 70% of its GDP. China has constructed two airports in Djibouti, extended Doraleh Port and built a naval base. There have been concerns that China will turn many of the ports constructed across the Indian Ocean into naval bases, to increase its military presence across the world and control the Indian Ocean shipping route. Economic gains in Djibouti are less obvious since debt to China accounts for more than 70% of their GDP. And although Djibouti’s Government agreed to build a naval base for China, this may begin a “String of Pearls” and will affect other countries across the Indian Ocean. Consequently, the BRI has not benefited Djibouti. 

In conclusion, receiving countries have not benefited from the BRI. Many countries have had to sell back projects to China or are in large debt to them. China is using what is referred to as debt-trap diplomacy (where a powerful lending country brings a borrowing country into a debt-trap and increases its leverage over it) to try and become the global superpower. Furthermore, China believes that by creating a network of dependencies across Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, China will be able to have more influence around the globe (This is known as Infrastructure Imperialism or Infrastructure Diplomacy). The String of Pearls theory, which predicts that China is trying to establish a string of naval bases in the Indian Ocean that will allow it to station ships and guard shipping routes that move through the region (the Indian Ocean is the home to one of the largest shipping routes in the world that interconnect Africa and the Middle East with South East Asia), is likely to become true. 

Arts & Humanities Geography Independent Learning Assignment

The New Cold War – Rising Tensions in the Arctic Circle

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Cameron Philp, and a finalist for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 45 minutes

Unlike the Antarctic and many other parts of the world, the Arctic is a region of unclear territories, rapid change and emerging economic and strategic importance. The Arctic Circle is the northernmost line of latitude on the globe and consists of a deep ocean covered by a drifting expanse of frozen seawater. This ice cap is the major feature of the area and it expands in winter as the sea freezes and reduces in size in the summer as the ice melts. Iceland, Denmark (through Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States are the eight ‘Arctic States’ that are located within the Arctic Circle. Approximately 4 million people live and work in the Arctic.

The extent of the Arctic ice cap has been decreasing significantly in the past few decades due to increasing average global temperatures. This rise in average temperature of the Earth’s climate is known as global warming and the Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average. Global warming is caused by many factors including the release of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels in power stations, that leads to a greater ‘greenhouse effect’. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is the warming that happens when certain gases in the atmosphere let light in and out but trap heat. Since the Industrial Revolution, the actions of humankind have had an increasingly damaging impact on the planet’s natural environment through an enhanced greenhouse effect. This has led the Arctic ice sheet to melt significantly and continues to at a terrifying rate due to increasing average temperatures. The last three winters in the Arctic have been 6ºC warmer than the average for the region and between 1982 and 2012, Arctic sea ice coverage decreased by over 40% from 8.3 to 4.7 million square kilometres. At the current receding rate, an ice-free Arctic is very likely in the next century and ice-free summers within the next few decades. This has many negative consequences. However, the decreasing ice coverage has meant resources previously inaccessible or too expensive to access are becoming available and commercially viable for exploitation.

To view Cameron’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography Law & Politics Social Sciences

Why did the UK withdraw from Singapore and Malaysia and what were the consequences for the region?

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Alexander Downey, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

When Harold Wilson took over as Prime Minister in 1964 from Alec Douglas-Home, he inherited a country riddled with financial difficulties. Macmillan’s supposed “Age of Affluence” left a remarkable balance of payments deficit of £400 million. The economic downturn was the trigger for calls for a review and a change in the way money was being spent and invested in foreign affairs and the military when the number of Brits at home who needed financial support grew.

Ever since the end of the Second World War Britain’s influence on the world stage had been in decline along with her empire. This led to Wilson taking the decision to continue with the post-war consensus idea of focusing on becoming a political power in Europe and adapting a role there rather than a worldwide role. Part of this meant reducing military commitments around the world, the term “East of Suez” was coined to refer to all British military bases and territories in the Eastern hemisphere, this included Malaysia and Singapore.

This region had a rather unique political situation due to the unique way in which Malaysia and Singapore were linked as well as Malaysia’s internal divisions. Following the decision to give independence to Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Borneo forming the Federation of Malaysia, the internal politics of this new country were chaotic to say the least. The Malaysian-Chinese population were discriminated against by the Islamophilic regime leading to violent protests, Britain then feared they would be drawn into a Vietnam style conflict, especially when Singapore separated itself from the Federation forming its own sovereign state. The political tensions along with Britain’s changing international role were important factors in the decision to withdraw from Malaysia and Singapore. 

However, one can argue that the role of pressure groups in the UK were more important as they emphasised Britain’s changing role and the dangerous political atmosphere of the region at the time. Whilst the importance of the pressure groups is often overlooked, the main point they pushed was the economic situation and the cost of having military bases in the Eastern hemisphere, Wilson was aware of this, so the importance of the pressure groups was much less than the economic situation at home at the time. The consequences for the region have been, in the long run, intrinsically positive. Malaysia’s economy in particular initially suffered an economic downturn but both countries are now amongst the most powerful Southeast Asian economies and continue to grow. 

To view Alexander’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography

How can the Lego Group adapt to a world more focused on environmental sustainability?

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Sam Rooke, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 11 minutes

The world is becoming increasingly aware of the impact that plastic has on the environment and its role in climate change. Therefore companies like Lego who’s brand relies on ABS Plastic could face major issues in the future if they do not find an environmentally sustainable method of operating. This research project investigates the impact of The Lego Group on the environment and its aims to become more economically sustainable. In order to do this it was important to understand the meaning and significance of environmental sustainability; why The Lego Group weren’t currently achieving this; how successful previous initiatives have been; and finally how achievable their future goals are.

To view Sam’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities Economics Geography Social Sciences

Should the world open all borders to immigration?

This article was written by upper-sixth former Anish Goel.

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Since World War Two, countries have reduced trade barriers and have tended to move towards free trade. Should the world follow a similar path with respect to immigration and open all borders?

Most economists tend to agree with both the policies of free trade and free movement of people.[1] To a free market economist, restricting immigration prevents the free market from allocating labour most efficiently. Free movement of people, in theory, should increase world GDP, with The Economist estimating that it could make the world $78 trillion richer.[2] However, there are other important factors including the effect on the natives and the large cultural and social effects. The definition of ‘open borders’ also may vary, although it could, it does not necessarily mean we become a nationless world with no borders between country. Countries could maintain their borders and vet everyone who enters their country but would allow everyone in, except in extremely extenuating circumstances e.g. a security risk.

Open border immigration has the potential to lower the wages of native workers. Immigration increases the supply of available labourers so (ceteris paribus) one might expect wages to fall for native workers as they now have more competition in the labour market. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that migrants often take low-skilled work, e.g. in the UK in 2013 of the 13 million low-skilled jobs, 2.1 million were occupied by migrants.[3] Low-skilled workers earn lower wages and so if their wages are lowered even more by immigration, it could lead to some not being able to afford the necessities e.g. food, utilities, rent etc and so would be an undesirable policy for governments to follow as a government’s job is to protect its own people first.

In reality however, immigrants don’t necessarily reduce native wages, especially in the long run.

Immigrants are also consumers and so will need to buy more products to sustain themselves. Therefore, increasing the demand for goods and services which increases the derived demand for labour to provide these products. This may then help to offset the reduction in native wages. The Mariel Boatlift case study illustrates the reality that the influx of immigrants may have little effect on native wages. In 1980 there was a sudden influx of Cuban immigrants into Miami, the size of the labour force increased by 7%. There seemed to be virtually no effect on the wages of natives, nor on the unemployment rate even for African American minority groups.[4] Immigrant’s don’t necessarily

compete for the same jobs as natives, often companies rearrange their structure and delay their automation due to the available supply of immigrant workers. This allows native workers to move onto more complex roles with more technical ability and communication required. In the short term a certain minority of low-skilled workers may see wage reduction however overall, in the long term, wages will likely go up.[5]

Open borders may make it possible for workers to commute from one country to another which could lead to native wages decreasing, especially in regions near the border. Commuting immigrants may spend their wages in their native country rather than the country in which they are working. So, the derived demand for labour will not increase. With the increased supply of labour from the commuting immigrants we could see a reduction in wages for natives. The native country may not feel the benefits of immigration if the ‘demand channel’ is shut down and the wages of the immigrants are repatriated.[6] A similar effect could be seen if the immigrants send a significant amount of their earnings back home. So, for an open border policy to fully benefit the natives, some regulation would need to be enforced which restricts the ability of individuals to reside in one country and work in another.

Another potential problem associated with open border immigration is the existence of state welfare. As Friedman suggested, in a welfare state, “the supply of immigrants would be infinite”7. Taking the UK for example, the NHS is already under immense pressure and all immigrants can make full use of the service. Hitherto Britain’s departure from the EU, EU citizens were able to claim jobseekers allowance.[7] Open borders could lead to a high number of immigrants immigrating to use these services and therefore reducing its quality for all. However, this problem is not as big as one would expect. Firstly, in the OECD European countries, it was found immigrants contribute more in social and tax contributions than they receive in individual benefits.[8] Secondly, even if immigrants did take more than they give, if borders were opened, governments could write legislation limiting immigrants’ ability to gain free access to public services until they have worked in the country for some time.

The immigrants themselves have much to gain; that’s why they move. When they move to a new country, they move somewhere they can be more productive by making use of their new countries’ capital, efficient firms, stability, and strong legal system.[9] They are therefore compensated more with a higher wage. Unskilled Nigerians can increase their earnings by 1000% by moving to the USA.11 Thus, opening borders has the potential to decrease global poverty and inequality more than foreign aid ever could; it would improve the immigrant’s standard of living.

By increasing their productivity, immigrants can also provide more value to their new country and the world. Michael Clemens claims that the complete opening of borders could double global GDP.

Shutting borders traps human talent in low productivity countries.[10] Countries who receive immigrants increase the number of their factors of production and so increasing their potential output. Immigrants increase the proportion of the country, which is of working-age population, they bring new skills to a country and contribute to human capital development of receiving countries.[11] Immigrants will provide more than the sum of their labour as they are enterprising and often start  businesses and organise the factors of production. Through creating jobs and increasing GDP, migrants grow a nation’s economy. 

Immigration has the potential to promote more gender equality amongst natives. Immigrants often enter jobs such as childcare, cleaning and catering[12] and so the increased supply of these types of workers decreases their cost.15 In the UK 19% of cleaning jobs are taken up by immigrants.[13] Domestic jobs like cleaning and childcare are often taken up by women as unpaid labour. By decreasing the cost of such services, they become more affordable for families and so they may free women up to join the workforce. The price of childcare may be reduced enough to make it worthwhile for a woman to get a job, and then pay for someone to help with childcare.  This would allow women to have more fulfilling careers and when they join the workforce, they can take up more productive jobs and provide more benefit to society in terms of tangible economic value.

It could be argued that the influx of new culture has a positive effect on a country. Take the UK for example, whose curry houses in 2016, employed 100,000 people and had annual sales of £4.2 billion.[14] This income and these jobs are a direct result of immigration from South Asia and the culture which followed. The cultural benefits of immigration are not limited to culinary choices. Immigrants are often hard-working, risk-takers and entrepreneurial. Out of the USA’s top 500 companies, 43% were founded or co-founded by immigrants or their children[15]; immigrants bring a more innovating culture to a country and can make use of their ‘cross-cultural experiences’ to create better products.[16]

There is also the notion that immigrants bring a culture of crime with them; however, the data does not necessarily support this, e.g. in the USA foreign-born residents are only a fifth as likely to be incarcerated.[17] Some may also argue that open borders allow terrorists to enter the country, however, there is that risk with our current immigration system. Having open borders does not forfeit a countries right to vet those entering their borders. Additionally, due to the economic

growth that results from immigration, there is evidence to suggest that terrorist activity is reduced by immigration.[18]

The biggest loser of immigration is probably the nation from which immigrants leave. If the risktaking and resilient citizens leave a country, that country is bound to suffer. A smaller population will cause decreases in GDP, and due to the nature of those leaving, it may see fewer businesses set up. In Haiti 85% of their educated youth leave and thus the average education of the Haitian population decreases.[19] However, this problem can be limited. Firstly, open borders would allow individuals to make use of richer countries’ universities, if they study there, they may return to their country more educated and therefore more productive. Secondly, immigrants often send money back to their family, this extra money is therefore pumped back into the local economy. Thirdly, many immigrants return to their home country having gained valuable work experience abroad and perhaps a broader cultural outlook, e.g. 45% of Mexicans who immigrated to the US eventually return.23

Overall, I strongly believe borders should be opened far more than they already are, the potential economic value of immigrants living in low productivity countries is too great for countries to not take advantage of. Given current immigration levels, the sudden opening of borders could see too many people entering and countries could face overpopulation problems e.g. housing shortages. However, in the long run, I believe borders should eventually be opened up. Despite the fears of cultural clash and native culture getting ‘washed away’ and overwhelmed, many of these thoughts lay in racist and colonial attitudes[20]; natives often vastly overestimate the presence of immigrants in their own country.[21] Not only would immigration be beneficial economically, but in my opinion, it isn’t ethically right to restrict an individual’s standard of living based on the location of their birth, something of which they have no control over. In order to progress to an economically efficient world, where individuals’ talents are used to their potential, we must move towards opening our borders.


Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo. 2019. Good Economics for Hard Times. London: Allen Lane.

Bowman, Sam. 2013. Adam Smith Institute. 03 07. Accessed 08 22, 2020.

Brandom, Russel. 2018. The Verge. 05 09. Accessed 07 06, 2018.

Caplan, Bryan. 2019. Foreign Policy. 1 11. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Collier, Paul. 2013. The New York Times. 29 11. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

Course, Crash. 2016. Youtube. 18 05. Accessed 08 18, 2020.

2020. European Cleaning Journal. 21 02. Accessed 08 22, 2020.

2020. Kellog Insight. 02 03. Accessed 08 19, 2020.

Matthews-King, Alex. 2018. The Independant. 24 12. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

2014. Migrants in low-skilled work. Government Report, London: Migration Advisory Committee.

2014. “Migration Policy Debates.” OECD. 05. Accessed 08 25, 2020.


Moore, Malcom. 2016. “The great British curry crisis.” Financial Times, 08 01.

Peron, James. 2018. The Radical Centre. 22 04. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Peter Vandor, Nikolaus Franke. 2016. Harvard Business Review. 27 10. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

entrepreneurial#:~:text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20immigrants%20are,as%20native%2Dborn %20U.S.%20citizens.&text=It%20appears%20plausible%20that%20entrepreneurial,highly%2 0motivated%20and%20capable%20individuals.

The Economist. 2017. “The $78 trillion free lunch.” 13 07. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

2017. United Nations Development. 19 10. Accessed 08 19, 2020.

report.html#:~:text=These%20trends%20have%20presented%20a,75%20trillion%20USD%20 in%202016.

Uta Schönberg, Christian Dustmann ,Jan Stuhler. 2016. “Labor Supply Shocks, Native Wages, and the Adjustment of Local Employment.” 08. Accessed 08 23, 2020. 04907305403203309207411211103602304409102406609102810310102300503900802412 7067119093112120105004081081085105088127006024110093109114122017086027&EXT


Vincenzo Bove, Tobias Bohmelt,. 2015. “Does Immigration Induce Terrorism.” 29 10. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Wearing, David. 2017. The Guardian. 09 05. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

[1] Kellog Insight, When Do Open Borders Make Economic Sense?,, (Accessed 18 Aug. 2020)

[2] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer, ,(Accessed 19 Aug. 2020)

[3] Migration Advisory Committee, Summary Report,(July 2014) , Migrants in low-skilled, work

MAC_Migrants_in_lowskilled_work_Summary_2014.pdf , (Accessed 19 Aug. 2020)

[4] David Card, The Impact of The Mariel Boatlift on The Miami Labour Market, NBER Working Paper Series, No.3069, 1989

[5] Crash Course, The Economics of Immigration: Crash Course Econ #33, Youtube Video, May 2016,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[6] Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Good Economics for Hard Times, (London: Allen Lane, 2019) 7 Sam Bowman, Adam Smith Institute,, (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[7] FullFact, , (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[8] OECD, Is migration good for the economy?,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[9] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer 11 Lbid.

[10] Bryan Caplan, Foreign Policy, Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea,, (Accessed 23 Aug.


[11] OECD, Is migration good for the economy?,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[12] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times 15 Lbid.

[13] ECJ, British Cleaning Council worried by UK government immigration proposals, (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[14] Malcom Moore, Financial Times, The great British curry crisis, , (Accessed 20 Aug. 2020)

[15] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times

[16] Peter Vandor, Nicholaus Franke. Harvard Business Review, , (Accessed 23 Aug. 2020)

[17] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer

[18] Vincenzo Bove, Tobias Bohmelt, Does Immigration Induce Terrorism?, October 2015,, (Accessed 23 Aug. 2020)

[19] Paul Collier, The New York Times, Migration Hurts the Homeland, ( Accessed 25 Aug. 2020) 23 Alex Matthews King, The Independent, Proportion of migrants who return to country of birth significantly higher than first thought, study suggests, (Accessed Aug. 2020)

[20] David Wearing, The Guardian, Immigration will remain a toxic issue until Britain faces up to its colonial past, May 2017,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[21] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times

Arts & Humanities Geography STEM

The uses & consequences of pesticides and the viability of alternatives

This article was written by fifth-former Janek Czarnek, and provides a shortened abstract of his original essay titled: “The Use of Pesticides: Beneficial or Detrimental”. To view his complete article, click the link at the end.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

The Uses and Consequences of Pesticides and the Viability of Alternatives

            It is clear that pest protection is key to agricultural sustainability globally, which is now more important than ever, as with a rapidly growing human population the demand for food is only becoming greater. It is estimated that between 26% and 40% of the world’s crop yield is lost each year due to pests, and this could rise up to 52% to 80% without the use of crop protection (1). Pesticides are chemical compounds used to kill pests, which can include any destructive organism that is a vector of disease or attacks crops or livestock. Not only are pesticides effective, at least in some circumstances, at directly eliminating the threat of pests, but they can also have secondary benefits such as preserving soil quality (1). However, although pesticides may be effective in some circumstances, their true long-term effectiveness and the consequences that they impose on non-target plants and animals pose an important question about their suitability for continued usage. Pesticides can have devastating consequences on non-target organisms and biodiversity, especially on fish where upon entering water sources can kill many fish through acute poisoning or oxygen depletion (2). Considering these effects on biodiversity, alongside increasing resistance to pesticides due to their great usage, are pesticides an effective long-term solution? Are they beneficial or detrimental to us, humans, and non-target plants and animals?

            Although there are many consequences to pesticide usage, one cannot forget the crucial role they play in crop protection that serves benefits both for food and biofuel production, as well as in disease control and infrastructure maintenance. A full evaluation of how pesticide usage should change in the coming years must consider how their impacts can be mitigated and whether there are viable alternatives that can effectively protect crops on the scale needed.

            Firstly, it is important to note that in some cases the consequences of pesticide usage can largely be mitigated through more careful, and even more regulated, application of these chemicals in a way that is less impactful on the surrounding ecosystems and organisms in addition to those who apply them. Mitigations of the consequences of pesticide use can include simply reading and following labels more closely (3), or using pesticides that do not leach and using more direct application rather than spray application to reduce pesticide drift and subsequently reducing the effects on surrounding ecosystems (3). Farmers can also be advised to leave a ‘buffer zone’ of crops around the edges of fields and agricultural land where pesticides have been used in order to reduce the chance of non-target plants and animals coming into contact with the pesticides (3). Responsible pesticide application can also include taking into consideration the surrounding geography as well as the weather; pesticides should be applied in dry conditions where rainfall is not forecasted because this prevents leaching and surface-run off water carrying the pesticide chemicals away and potentially affecting non target organisms (4). Similarly, pesticides should be avoided where the temperatures are high and when plants are suffering drought as this will increase the rate of transpiration where pesticides can dissolve into water and be dispersed (4). Many other precautions can also be taken; however, it is important to realise that many of the damaging consequences of pesticides can be reduced by taking actions considerate of the surroundings and using them responsibly.

Figure 1 Rice-Fish Culture in China, FAO,

           On the other hand, safer alternatives that can still effectively protect crops are always preferable. Many of these alternatives come under the branch of organic integrated pest management, which includes several methods to control pests in an environmentally sustainable manner (5). An important part of this is effectively preventing pest populations growing in large numbers through methods such as companion planting, where plants that repel certain insects are planted, and biological control, where natural predators are introduced to organically control pest populations (6). An example of introducing natural predators is that of utilising ladybird larvae which are effective at managing aphid populations (6) or other symbiotic relationships such as that of fish in rice fields where fish will eat the pests attracted to the rice (7). In Bangladesh it was observed that pest infestation in rice fields containing only rice were 40-167% higher than those that also contained fish (7). Preventive measures can also be combined with increased monitoring of pests and mechanical pest control through means such as fences and nets to reduce access of pests to crops. Alternative chemical means to protect crops have been developed through genetic modification; for example, the genomes of maize and cotton have been altered to include genes that make the plant toxic to pests and hence protect themselves and the surrounding crops (8). All these methods can greatly reduce the impact that pesticides have on biodiversity, the recent Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 indicated that none of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity targets had been reached in the last decade (9) and the Living Planet Report 2020 has said that between 1970 and 2016 there has been a 68% decrease globally in populations of mammals, amphibians, birds and reptiles on average (10); this is up from 60% in 2018 when looking at the period 1970 to 2014 (11).  Considering these many alternatives to protect crops from damage from pests, and the need now more than ever to do everything we can to stop reducing global biodiversity, it seems clear that action should be taken to increase the usage of these alternatives that greatly reduce the impact on non-target organisms.

            Therefore, in conclusion, pesticides used for agricultural crop protection and other uses with exposure to the surrounding environment are detrimental and have far reaching consequences throughout ecosystems, on both plants and animals, as well as for ourselves. Although pesticides also have important benefits, these will become less effective in the future and can be replaced by alternatives that pose significantly less danger to us and non-target organisms. Moving forward we must ensure that the transition to these safer alternatives is carefully managed, so that they do not affect the availability of food and ensure that they can be provided on the necessary scale. Although this transition may take time, it is clear that pesticides do not have a place in our long-term solution for crop protection from pests and are overall more detrimental than beneficial.

To view Janek’s full article, follow this link below.


1. OECD/FAO (2012). OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021. Paris : OECD Publishing and FAO, 2012.

2. Fishel, Frederick M. Pesticide Effects on Nontarget Organisms. EDIS University of Florida IFAS Extension. [Online] [Cited: 7 October 2019.]

3. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tips for Reducing Pesticide Impacts on Wildlife. [Online] [Cited: 9 July 2020.]

4. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHC). Chemicals: using them in gardens. [Online] [Cited: 9 July 2020.]

5. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles. [Online] [Cited: 9 July 2020.]

6. Spence, Steven. Gardening Alternatives to Pesticides. Science Connected Magazine. [Online] 2017. [Cited: 9 July 2020.],pest%20infestations%20in%20short%20order..

7. Halwart, M. and M.V., Gupta (eds.). Culture of Rice in Fish Fields. s.l. : FAO and The WorldFish Center, 2004. [Cited: 9 July 2020.]

8. GeneWatch UK. Pest Resistent Crops. [Online] [Cited: 9 July 2020.],Pest%20resistant%20crops,bacterial%20species%20called%20Bacillus%20thuringiensis..

9. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Global Biodiversity Outlook 5. Montreal : s.n., 2020.

10. WWF. Living Planet Report 2020 – Bending the curve of biodiversity loss. Gland, Switzerland : s.n., 2020.

11. WWF. Living Planet Report – 2018: Aiming Higher. Gland : s.n., 2018.

Table of Figures

Figure 1 Rice-Fish Culture in China, FAO, 2

Arts & Humanities Economics Geography Social Sciences

An analysis of the global north south divide

Runner up for the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism essay competition, written by upper sixth-former Jack Donnelly.

Estimated read time: 11 minutes

The Global North is rich largely due to exploitation and underdevelopment of the Global South, which still goes on to this day, and therefore owes reparations to rectify this rift. Discuss.

Murmurs of discontent spread throughout the former colonies. In July 2020 this went beyond mere whispers as the Democratic Republic of the Congo demanded compensation for the pain inflicted by decades spent under colonial rule. Just a month later, Burundi laid the same demands at the feet of Belgium and Germany – to the tune of $43 billion. There’s no doubt that a massive proportion of Sub-Saharan Africa’s – and indeed the Global South’s – modern troubles come courtesy of their exploitation under the Global North; the question emerges, do the modern nations owe reparations for crimes committed centuries ago?

The Global North is an oft-cited idea which, in reality, lacks clear boundaries or uniting principles. For one, the conceptual Global North ignores the geographical parameters implied by the name – it is not simply a conglomerate of nations existing above the Equator or, indeed, some agreed latitude. Therefore, before discussing the Global North-South divide we must establish what the Global North actually describes. The Brandt Report of 1980 gave economists and politicians an idea of the immense gulf in development between the two hemispheres; more importantly, it gave us the ‘Brandt Line’ which depicts the divide based on GDP per capita as a factor. Notably, it straddles the Earth at 30o N but drops to include New Zealand and Australia as part of the Global North. Brandt himself was optimistic for the new century and that coordination between the hemispheres could ‘build a world in which sharing, justice, freedom and peace might prevail’. 

In another sense, the geopolitical North-South divide was highlighted in Alfred Sauvy’s Trois Mondes, une planète where he coined the terms First, Second, and Third World. The phrases were originally instituted for the USA and the USSR and their respective allies, along with the unaligned Third World – a term now synonymous with poverty and underdevelopment, rather than a particular political alignment. Today we like to characterise the divide through a number of developmental factors: income inequality, wealth, democracy indices, along with political and economic freedom.

Regardless of how you categorise the divide – it is most certainly there. Examining its extent, the North earns four-fifths of the world’s income while constituting less than a quarter of its population; additionally, at least up until the early 2000s, over 90% of global manufacturing took place in the North. Interpreting the level to which exploitation has brought about the current situation could allow a conclusion to be reached on whether reparations are truly owed. 

The most obvious example of historical Northern exploitation of the South is colonialism – it’s simply inescapable. Initially, it came commercially, through companies such as the British and Dutch East India Companies[1] which grew to dominate the economies of their respective subjugated nations. At its height, the East India Company accounted for over 50% of global

trade and acted with the sovereignty and jurisdiction of a self-governing nation. The global mechanism of colonialism was analogous to that of a catapult. The colonial powers of Western Europe played a major role in the deindustrialisation of non-Western societies; British intervention in the Indian subcontinent reduced its share of global GDP from almost a quarter to just a couple of measly percentage points as shown in Figure 2. The metaphor completes itself in the way colonialism catapulted Western powers to global superiority through the exploitation of their colonial subjects.  

Nothing is a more egregious act of exploitation than the Atlantic Slave Trade existing between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Briefly ignoring the horrific brutality and the dehumanising nature of the slave trade, we can identify it as the catalyst for so many demographical and economic issues facing Africa today. Some 12 million Africans were captured and shipped out – primarily to America – by the Europeans, destroying their social fabric and depleting the workforce immensely. The poorest parts of modern Africa share a direct correlation with the areas where the most slaves were taken. The scars of colonialism are visible to this day; African nations were created from thin air, ignoring cultural or geographical divides and instead opting for arbitrary borders which have incited enormous amounts of conflict – both national and international – since. 

Even beyond exploitation in its most explicit forms, the colonial powers of Western Europe capitalised on their supremacy by taking further advantage of unfair trade. Through ‘gunboat diplomacy’[2], they forced many countries which had escaped colonisation to sign unequal treaties, leaving the nations bereft of tariff autonomy. To understand the impact of this, we must examine the strength of protectionist policies in young economies. Alexander Hamilton argued in his 1791 Report on the Subject of Manufactures that the US needed to defend

‘industries in their infancy’ from cheaper imports in the more competitive and developed international market. By stripping young economies of ‘infant industry protection’, the powers of the Global North deprived many Latin American and Asian countries of a fair chance at development. Many of these treaties lasted for decades – even well into the twentieth century in some cases. The affected Southern countries experienced negative per capita income growth during the late Industrial Revolution period; an inability to nurture and promote their youthful industries contributed immensely. 

While the level of ‘exploitation’ today does not even hold a candle to its heights in colonial times, forms of neo-colonialism exist between powerful modern countries and the ‘Third World’. China is exercising its financial might – through FDI[3] – across the entire continent of Africa, moulding it into essentially a ‘China’s China’; in this case, however, the development is not necessarily one-sided. The truth is that China is richly compensating African nations as they surge forwards with rapid urbanisation in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’[4]. Daan Roggeveen, the founder of an Architecture firm and an author of books on Chinese and African

Urbanisation, said ‘right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometres are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous’. Africa is sitting on a massive stockpile of natural resources and China has been quick to take advantage of the power vacuum in the wake of departing colonial powers. China itself is still considered a part of the Global South, but in essence its actions in Africa are reminiscent of historical Northern intervention. Indeed, there have been cries of exploitation and Chinese imperialism, with the former governor of Nigeria’s central bank criticising their removal of natural resources without any provision of economic enrichment in the form of skills and jobs. Regardless, Africa benefits in some sense from the massive amounts of FDI – something one could consider a form of economic reparation. 

Conversely, a significant portion of the North’s success can be attributed to their intrinsic development. Throughout history, a correlation can be identified between the quality of institutions, the strength of government and more advanced economic development. These are elements of a country which can be built up naturally over time; alternatively, they can be instigated by colonisers or conquering foreign powers. School enrolment and greater provision of public goods, for example, contribute a powerful multiplier effect to development. It could be argued that the Global South has not arrived in its disadvantaged position as a result of exploitation, but instead due to unfortunate geography, climate and numerous other factors. 

The Global South has, beyond this, suffered from factors exogenous to the influence of the North. Geography is key to this argument – Africa and South America have been disadvantaged greatly due to their narrow orientation; Eurasia benefits from wide, vast plains of arable land perfect for cultivation and the domestication livestock. A lack of genetic immunity in the ‘New World’ led to the decimation of native populations throughout the continent; immunity that

European settlers had from centuries of close integration with livestock – something native Americans never had. Ultimately, the resulting underdevelopment cannot be pinned on European settlers; they could never have foreseen the devastation they would reap on the relatively immunocompromised natives. The blame here falls upon the poor geographical starting points of Southern societies.

Furthermore, Modernisation Theory attempts to explain the underdevelopment of the Global South as a result of their own policies and socio-economic structures rather than Northern intervention. Feudalism, tribalism and relatively primitive economic structures have led their societies to a point where they lack regulation, democracy and have failed to modernise and develop themselves. The theory considers Third World society largely responsible for its own poverty. The archetypal societal approach tends to grant too much power to individuals; corruption in a country’s elite leadership can obviously be enormously detrimental to development – but it is all too prevalent. 

The Global South now has its own mechanisms in place which, certainly in part, negate the need to have reparations paid by the North. One of the most notable institutions representing the spirit of the developing Global South is the BRICS[5], a multilateral group of major emerging Southern economies. Between them, they constitute 41% of the global population and approximately 23% of world GDP. The BRICS have two key components to their financial architecture which are dedicated to the development of the Global South, the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The bank, in particular, aims to lend up to $34 billion annually with a focus on massive infrastructure development. When outlining the plan for the organisations, the BRICS found themselves keen to distance Southern investment from the North’s sphere of influence; since they are willing to offer competitive rates to their Southern associates, perhaps they are best left to collaborate without the need for Northern intervention or reparations.

Moreover, we are obligated to question the feasibility of reparations being paid by the North. Multilateral payments of any kind are notoriously difficult to agree upon, as could be witnessed with the days of debate over collective debt[6] assumption in the EU in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Now consider the complexity of any agreement that would require payment by the collective ‘North’ to the collective ‘South’ on the basis of centuries of

exploitation and mistreatment. Even if it were decided that the current Global North needed to be held responsible for the actions of past generations, the practicality of it dispensing payments or other forms of compensation is contentious at best. Perhaps the more effective method of extending the olive branch would be through bilateral – rather than multilateral – action and intervention; individual Northern powers could be responsible for making reparations with the countries specifically impacted by their ventures. 

Ultimately, the statement is true: ‘The Global North is rich largely due to exploitation and underdevelopment of the Global South’ – to a certain extent. While the North has benefited significantly at the detriment of Southern countries, it is unfair to say that their wealth comes largely from exploitation. A significant portion of Northern success came from the strength of their innate development – strong institutions and a focus on societal growth and evolution have built them into successful nations. Regarding reparations, it is apparent that payment from a United North to a United South would be impossibly complicated to arrange; instead, individual acts of bilateral aids between wealthy Northern nations and poorer Southern nations targeting rapid economic and social development could be a far more constructive option.  


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[1] The British East India Company operated in the Indian subcontinent while the Dutch East India Company was in the Dutch East Indies, modern-day Indonesia. 

[2] Pursuit of foreign policy objectives with the aid of conspicuous displays of naval power 

[3] Foreign Direct Investment – Investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country. 

[4] ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.

[5] Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS)

[6] The EU agreed in July 2020 to an $869bn recovery package with debt shared between each member state. Despite close links between the EU states it took several days of debate to reach an agreement.