Iran: from Third to First World

  • Rodney Wilson

Abstract

Since most economic observers agree that Iran offers the greatest development potential in the Middle East, it seems appropriate to treat that country first in this present work. Its development experience during the last thirty years illustrates how a medium-sized state with a population of 34 million can be transformed economically, provided ample financial resources are available. Iran is, of course, fortunate in having substantial oil revenues, as it is the second largest producer in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, with annual revenues averaging almost $20 (US) billion over the 1975–7 period.1 Unlike Saudi Arabia, however, Iran has the necessary complementary resources, both in terms of manpower and land, to ensure that the financial boom resulting from oil exports is translated into real domestic economic growth. Consequently the country is rapidly being modernised along Western lines as economic diversification gathers momentum, and by the 1990s Iranian living standards may not be far short of those prevailing in Western Europe. The Iranian government has in fact become obsessed in recent years with the question of development, since they feel they must modernise quickly, before their oil resources become depleted in a couple of decades’ time.

Keywords

Sugar Urea Europe Steam Income 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    A standard source on Iranian history is Percy Sykes, A History of Persia, vol. 1 (Macmillan, 1915). Chapters XIII and XIV give an account of the Persian Empire at its zenith, on p. 148 ff. For an account of its links with China over 1500 years ago see Chapter XXXIX, p. 483 ff.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Julian Bharier, Economic Development in Iran 1900–1970, (Oxford University Press, 1971) p. 171.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    For details of Iran’s development during this period see Charles Issawi, ‘Iran’s Economic Upsurge’, Middle East Journal, vol. 21, no. 4 (Autumn 1967) pp. 447–62. Also his chapter on ‘The Economy: An Assessment of Performance’ in Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.), Iran Faces the Seventies (New York: Praeger, 1971) Chapter 2, p. 44 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    See IMDBI, Functions and Policies (Tehran, 1972) p. 6 ff, especially. The bank also produces detailed annual financial reports.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    For a less critical, purely factual account of the Aryamehr steel industry see Iran Trade and Industry, Iran 1973 (Tehran, 1973) pp. 28–33.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Walter Elkan, ‘Employment, Education, Training and Skilled Labour in Iran’, Middle Eastern Journal, vol. 31, no. 3, (spring 1977) p. 176 ff.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Rodney Wilson, Trade and Investment in the Middle East (Macmillan, 1977) p. 75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 19.
    Plan and Budget Organization, Statistical Yearbook 1392 (March 1973–March 1974) p. 42.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    Deutsche Bank, Report on Iran (Frankfurt, 1976) p. 50.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    Survey of Iran, The Economist (28 August, 1976) p. 31.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    The reform measures are dealt with in detail by Ann Lampton, The Persian Land Reform 1962–66 (Oxford University Press, 1969) Chapter 3, p. 63 ff, espcecially.Google Scholar
  12. For an alternative rather uncritical account see D. R. Denman, The Kings Vista: A Land Reform which has Changed the Face of Persia (Geographical Publications Ltd., Berkhamsted, 1973) Chapters 5, 11 and 12 especially, p. 159ff.Google Scholar
  13. 35.
    Keith McLachlan, ‘Land Reform in Iran’, in W. B. Fisher (ed), Cambridge History of Iran (Cambridge University Press, 1968), vol. 1, p. 687.Google Scholar
  14. 36.
    Julian Bharier, ‘The Growth of Towns and Villages in Iran, 1900–66’, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 8, no. 1 (January 1972) p. 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 37.
    Bharier, Economic Development in Iran 1900–1970, p. 138. For a more recent evaluation of the reform measures see Ismail Ajami, ‘Agrarian Reform, Modernization of Peasants and Agricultural Development in Iran’, in Jane W. Jacqz (ed.), Iran: Past, Present, Future, (New York: Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, 1976) p. 131 ff.Google Scholar
  16. 38.
    N. R. Keddie, ‘The Iranian Village Before and After Land Reform’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 3, no. 3, (July 1968) p. 87.Google Scholar
  17. For a critical account of the official data on land reform see M. A. Katouzian, ‘Land Reform in Iran: A Case Study in the Political Economy of Social Engineering’, Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 1, no. 2 (1974) pp. 220–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Rodney Wilson 1979

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  • Rodney Wilson

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