Furthermore, while global change is important in the lives of many young people, its impact around the world has been highly uneven: Over the last 20 years, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has risen spectacularly in India, China, and parts of Pacific Asia, roughly stagnated in Latin America, and fallen dramatically in the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and across sub-Saharan Africa (Wade, 2004).
Even in countries in which the rate of economic growth has been very high, for some young people, particularly those in rural areas, the outward patterns and rhythms of life may appear to be largely unaffected. The growing gap between those who are caught up in global change and those who are not is a particular concern. Traditional cultures may control which young people are given the opportunity to fully participate in the best that the new global economy and lifestyle has to offer, and which will maintain traditional ways of life and possibly suffer as their standards of living fall farther behind their peers in their adult years.
Although the origins of globalization can be traced back hundreds of years, there is no doubt that since the 1980s rapid technological change combined with major political reforms have accelerated the transformation of the world’s economic system. Improvements in transportation and communication technology together with advances in computer power have contributed to a new international division of labor characterized by the rise of multinational companies, increased international financial flows, and the transfer of manufacturing jobs from the developed to the developing world. These technological advances have occurred at the same time that major political reforms, including the collapse of communism, have opened up markets and removed previous institutional barriers to trade and development.
Again it is important to stress that the extent of global economic change has been very uneven across the developing world. While the restructuring of global production has brought numerous benefits to many, others have been virtually unaffected and as a result increasingly marginalized. The region that has benefited the most from globalization is Pacific Asia, while large parts of Africa have been effectively bypassed. In fact, in 24 sub-Saharan African economies, GDP per capita is lower today than it was 20 years ago: and in 12 countries it is even below its 1960 level (Milanovic, 2003). In Asia, some of the populous economic giants that have gained the most overall from globalization, including China, India, and Indonesia, have experienced widening income gaps as their economies went global (Williamson, 2002). This is because the benefits of globalization have been