Small Country Versus Large Country:

Total posts: [17]
1 GameChainsaw28th Oct 2010 01:48:11 PM from sunshine and rainbows!
The Shadows Devour You.
I've been thinking, and there is an argument that runs that countries like Russia are simply too large to function well. On the other hand, you have economies of scale; you cannot deny that America as a whole has the largest GDP per head of any country, and they're fairly massive.

So is it better to be a small country or a large country? Why? Are there areas where it is better to be small than large? What factors into this?

Discuss. I'll post my thoughts later.
2 Kayeka28th Oct 2010 02:04:15 PM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
Small countries have the advantage of actually being nation states. It's also easier to manage your population when there is fewer of it, not to mention infrastructure. Unfortunately, it gets crowded easily (over here, that is).

And, even though it's mostly unrelated, I would like to note that 'America has highest GDP' comes mostly from the top 5% of the American population, and that the poverty rate is quite unfitting for a first world country.
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3 pvtnum1128th Oct 2010 02:08:12 PM from Kerbin low orbit , Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
Yeah, we have a huge income gap between the rich and the poor here.
Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
What you have I believe is a problem of efficiency versus ability to move large stuff for a single purpose.

America is not the highest GDP per capita but it has a very massive GDP. Likewise, China's GDP per capita but even with ass poor farmers, they have a ridiculous total GDP.

Small nation states allow you to run things very efficiently. Large nation states allows you to undertake big projects, like going to the moon, or making a space elevator. It's very difficult to get a bunch of small nation-states to see eye to eye and work in a coordinated fashion.
5 MajorTom28th Oct 2010 03:41:32 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
^ Conversely popular ideas and policies that can work in a small nation generally do not when you scale them up.

Case in point: a welfare state. There's no practical way you can replicate the "success" of the Norwegian welfare state in a country as big as the United States. Too many people, too large an area.
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6 Chalkos28th Oct 2010 04:01:07 PM from The Internets
Sidequest Proliferator
Oh, my. Didn't see that post coming.

Certainly the practicalities of a small country and a large country are quite different; for example, the implementation of democracy has to change based upon the size of the demos in question. While adapting a large-nation idea or principle to a small nation isn't impossible, it certainly can be difficult, and more so with some ideas than with others.

Economically speaking, large nations do have the advantage of a larger domestic market, which means that they tend to be attractive to corporations and such. Small nations, on the other hand, sometimes have more forgiving tax policies, which can create those lovely things called tax havens. Pros and cons, pros and cons.
Game Chainsaw: you cannot deny that America as a whole has the largest GDP per head of any country
Well, almost.

Major Tom: Conversely popular ideas and policies that can work in a small nation generally do not when you scale them up.
This is terribly faulty, and I think raises the main advantage of a huge country like the USA or Canada: If something works best at a greater scale, the federal government can do it, if not? The state/provincial or county government can. Life in general is made so much easier, as passing internal borders and doing business crosscountry is far freer of hassles than running through dozens of tiny little countries in Europe. Unification is the wave of the future, and I think the EU's recent stumbles can be put down entirely to hypercapitalist attempts to conflate 1st-world and 3rd-world economies with each other.

Regarding Russia, as I understand it, don't most of Russia's problems have to do with a lack of internal transparency, meaning that different regions and ethnic groups are wildly underrepresented in the government's political structure?

8 TuefelHundenIV28th Oct 2010 08:25:33 PM from Wandering , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchman of the Apocalypse
Things don't even necessarily scale properly at the state level either.

I was going to point out that effectively the U.S. is comprised of a unified batch of nations who have united under one banner under specific terms to achieve goals for the betterment of the group as a whole. Every state has their own set of laws and cultures much like many small nations only the U.S. is one big unified group.

Advantages of a small nation is that is much easier to track and control what goes on in the nation as a whole as well as deal with local problems. It makes nation wide transportation that much more easy. The downside to that is you might have to rely heavily on imports or trade with your neighbors to make up for things you can not make or do on your own.

Larger nations usually have the advantage in shear numbers for large undertakings and access to many resources under their personal sway. they can also have a higher chance of being more self sufficient and not have to rely as heavily on their neighbors as a smaller nation would.

Of course you can't ignore factors like geography, climate, and resources available in assorted areas.
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Well Major Tom, your hypothesis is about to be tested big time. China is implementing with help from UK, a universal healthcare system for 1.3 billion people. ;)

I personally think efficiency of leadership is the question of big/small country. Economic efficiency is sorta both low and high for a small country. Small country can very easily tailor its economic policies for high efficiency and also have good leadership to follow through with it. At the same time, large countries afford big economies of scale, as with the USA, you can see how certain states are geared toward one big industry and others just feed into them.
As with most other supposition regarding China's modernization, India and (to a lesser extend) Indonesia already have that.

Fractally long
Does anyone know where I can find a list of countries' median GDP? It might be a better metric than mean GDP in determining how well the typical citizen's actually doing.

I'm inclined to think a large country can have the advantages of a small country—indeed, many US states are the size of small European countries (Michigan's about as big as Sweden, for instance).
12 storyyeller29th Oct 2010 11:23:32 AM from Appleloosa , Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
There's no such thing as a median GDP. GDP is calculated for the nation as a whole, not for each individual (which is clearly impossible).

You could look for median income though, but that doesn't factor in things like healthcare.
94. Grandmaster of Shark
Longfellow,, I am not quite sure for what you are looking, but if it is for something like "life quality", here is the Human Development Index.
Fractally long
Thanks for the corrections. Both are close to what I was looking for.

I think from this data we can look at each country's population, area, and population density. And maybe how the population's distributed. And see if we can find any connections between these measures and the economic structures that work best.

From the HDI's top 30, the USA is the most populous at about 300 million; Japan's next at about 130 million. Its population density is low but not unusually so, still denser than the Scandinavian countries, Canada, and Australia.
15 Deboss29th Oct 2010 02:22:14 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Is that an averaged pop density or what?
Fractally long
A simple population/area. Obviously an incomplete picture (ex. most Australians clump in the same urban areas), but it's a number we can at least work with.
17 Deboss29th Oct 2010 03:42:36 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
There's a difference though. There's US territory that is effectively uninhabited.
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Total posts: 17