Coming of Age – IELTS Academic Reading Passage

A Three striking facts highlight the dramatic shift in recent years in the relative economic balance of “first-world” and “third-world” economies. Last year, according to our estimates, emerging economies produced slightly more than half of world output measured at purchasing-power parity. Second, they also accounted for more than half of the increase in global GDP in current-dollar terms. And third, perhaps most striking of all, the 32 biggest emerging economies grew in both 2004 and 2005. Every previous year during the past three decades saw at least one country in recession – if not a deep crisis. Some economies will inevitably stumble over the coming years, but, thanks to sounder policies, most can look forward to rapid long-term growth. The young emerging economies have grown up in more ways than one.

B Such happenings are part of the biggest shift in economic strength since the emergence of the United States more than a century ago. As developing countries and the former Soviet block have embraced market-friendly economic reforms and opened their borders to trade and investment, more countries are industrialising than ever before – and more quickly. During their industrial revolutions, America and Britain took 50 years to double their real incomes per head; today China is achieving that in a single decade. In an open world, it is much easier to catch up by adopting advanced countries’ technology than it is to be an economic leader that has to invent new technologies in order to keep growing. The shift in economic power towards emerging economies is therefore likely to continue. This is returning the world to the sort of state that endured throughout most of its history. People forget that, until the late 19th century, China and India were the world’s two biggest economies and today’s “emerging economies” accounted for the bulk of world production.

C Many bosses, workers, and politicians in the rich world fear that the success of these newcomers will be at their own expense. However, rich countries will gain more than they lose from the enrichment of others. Fears that the third world will steal rich-world output and jobs are based on the old fallacy that an increase in one country’s output must be at the expense of another’s. But more exports give developing countries more money to spend on imports – mainly from developed economies. Faster growth in poor countries is therefore more likely to increase the output of their richer counterparts than to reduce it. The emerging economies are helping to lift world GDP growth at the very time when the rich world’s ageing populations would otherwise cause growth to slow.

D Although stronger growth in emerging economies will make developed count lies as a whole better off, not everybody will be a winner. Globalisation is causing the biggest shift in relative prices (of labour, capital, commodities, and goods) for a century, and this in turn is causing a significant redistribution of income. Low-skilled workers in developed economies are losing out relative to skilled workers. And owners of capital are-grabbing a bigger slice of the cake relative to workers as a whole.

E As a result of China, India, and the former Soviet Union embracing market capitalism, the global labour force has doubled in size. To the extent that this has made labour more abundant, and capital relatively scarcer, it has put downward pressure on wages relative to the return on capital. Throughout the rich world, profits have surged to record levels as a share of national income, while the workers’ slice has fallen. Hence, Western workers as a whole do not appear to have shared fully in the fruits of globalisation; many low-skilled ones may even be worse off. However, this is only part of the story. Workers’ wages may be squeezed, but as consumers they benefit from lower prices. As shareholders and future pensioners, they stand to gain from a more efficient use of global capital. Competition from emerging economies should also help to spur rich-world productivity growth and thus average incomes,

F To the extent that rich economies as a whole gain from the new wealth of emerging ones, governments have more scope to compensate losers. Governments have another vital role to play, too. The intensifying competition from emerging economies makes flexible labour and product markets even more imperative, so as to speed up the shift from old industries to new ones. That is why Europe and Japan cannot afford to drag their heels over reform or leave workers ill-equipped to take up tomorrow’s jobs. Developed countries that are quick to abandon declining industries and move upmarket into new industries and services will fare best as the emerging economies come of age. Those that resist change can look forward to years of relative decline. Those that embrace it can best share in the emerging economies’ astonishing new wealth.

Questions 1-4
The text has 6 paragraphs (A – F).

Which paragraph contains each of the following pieces of information?

1. Advice for developed countries
2. The reason that it is faster to develop nowadays
3. The fact that in the 30 years before 2004, not all large developing economies grew
4. The fact that domination of the global economy by Western countries is unusual in global history

Questions 5-8
Complete the following sentences using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each gap.

Developing economies can catch up with developed ones faster because they don’t have to (5)………………..

Growth in developing countries helps developed economies because of spending (6)………………..

Capital is being used more efficiently because it is (7)………………….

Economic (8)………………… required in many developed economies.

Questions 9-13
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 9 – 13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN If there is no information on this

9. Large developing economies should not have any problems in the future.
10. If one country increases production, another country will have to reduce its production.
11. Globalisation is causing greater differences in income.
12. Low-skilled workers in developed economies are earning less.
13. Japan is not spending enough on education.