The Gross domestic product (GDP) of a country is a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period. Our theory is that the amount of goods produced is in direct relation to the sentiment of the citizens of a country – the more positive and confident people are, the more goods that are produced.
Nominal GDP estimates are commonly used to determine the economic performance of a whole country or region, and to make international comparisons.
South Africa is part of the BRICS grouping – Brazil, India, China and South Africa.
To test our theory relating to ‘happy, confident citizens produce more’ we pulled data dating from 1960 and reflecting the GDP for all the BRICS countries from the World Bank Data Repository – the data contains over 1400 Indicators, some of which are pretty niche, like – ‘Rural land area where elevation is below 5 meters (sq. km)‘.
For the purposes of this exercise we honed in on the period 1990 to 2015 and then expressed South Africa’s GDP as a percentage of the total GDP contribution between all the BRICS countries (GDP at market prices at a constant 2010 US$).
Once again it is quite uncanny how the peaks and troughs follow our political landscape:
- 1990 – 2.96% – President of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk announced plans to end apartheid.
- 1995 – 3.45% – First full year of democratic rule under Nelson Mandela.
- 2002 – 1.83% – President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki states that AIDS drugs are dangerously toxic to people and questions whether HIV or poverty is the true cause of Aids.
- 2005 – 3.22% – Jacob Zuma is relieved of his post as Deputy President of South Africa.
- 2009 – 2.74% – Jacob Zuma is elected President in the South African presidential election.
- 2011 – 3.27% – South Africa is coasting on a successful 2010 World Cup.
- 2015 – 2.03% – At President Jacob Zuma’s 2015 State of the Nation Address, the president was interrupted by the Economic Freedom Fighters, who demanded that he pay back the money used on his Nkandla homestead. South Africa also saw new xenophobic uprisings taking place, mainly targeted towards Africans from other countries. Foreigners were beaten, robbed and murdered during the attacks. The social protest Rhodes Must Fall started in 2015 at the University of Cape Town to protest for the removal of statues erected in South Africa during the colonial era depicting some of the well known colonists who settled in South Africa. In education, South Africa recorded a drop in its matric pass rate from 2013 to 2014. The protest #FeesMustFall was started towards the end of the year and achieved its primary goal of stopping an increase in university fees for 2016.
The tables make one wonder why China bothers to be associated with her much poorer cousins as the trend line for China is on a solid upward trajectory at the expense of mainly Russia. Significantly Brazil was ahead of China in 1993 – only to have their trajectory reversed and continue to tumble to date. Looking at these graphs it certainly looks like China has benefited more from the BRICS grouping than her lesser partners.
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