The term “BRICs” gets thrown around a lot these days. At least it gets thrown around by people who perceive themselves to be savvy and worldly. In case you aren’t savvy and worldly, BRICs just means Brazil, Russia, India and China. The huge rising economies of the past generation, and next generation. Here’s a summary from Wikipedia:
The BRIC thesis recognizes that Brazil, Russia, India and China…have changed their political systems to embrace global capitalism. Goldman Sachs predicts that China and India, respectively, will become the dominant global suppliers of manufactured goods and services, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials. It should be noted that of the four countries, Brazil remains the only nation that has the capacity to continue all elements, meaning manufacturing, services, and resource supplying simultaneously. Cooperation is thus hypothesized to be a logical next step among the BRICs because Brazil and Russia together form the logical commodity suppliers to India and China. Thus, the BRICs have the potential to form a powerful economic bloc to the exclusion of the modern-day states currently of “Group of Eight” status. Brazil is dominant in soy and iron ore while Russia has enormous supplies of oil and natural gas. Goldman Sachs’ thesis thus documents how commodities, work, technology, and companies have diffused outward from the United States across the world.
But there are big quantitative differences between these nations as well. Below the fold are some charts which I think illustrate those differences.
Chris Mooney points me to some data on scientific knowledge indicators published by the NSF. There’s a controversy whereby evolution and Big Bang related questions seem to have been removed because American religious Fundamentalism tended to produce a rejection of sane consensus in these areas. Science pointed to the unedited chapters which have some international comparisons. I’ve reformatted a figure from page 103 below. No surprise that American comes out badly on evolution and the Big Bang, but what always strikes me when Russia is included in the list is how skeptical citizens are to conventional science. If you poke around the World Values Survey you don’t find the Russians to be a particularly religious nation, at least compared to Poland or the United States, despite a general shift back toward nominal Orthodox Christian affiliation after the fall of Communism. Rather, I suspect Russian rejection of mainstream science probably has its roots more in a broader skepticism of institutional elite knowledge. After all, the Marxist ideology under which they were tyrannized for 70 years made the pretense of being scientific and positivistic.