Quiz: What percentage of the world's cell-phone accounts are in developing countries?

For those of you who don't subscribe to the bimonthly print edition of Foreign Policy, you're missing a great feature: the FP Quiz. It has eight intriguing questions about how the world works.

The question I'd like to highlight this week is:

What percentage of the world's cell-phone accounts are in developing countries? 

a) 25 percent    b) 50 percent    c) 75 percent

Answer after the jump ...


C, 75 percent.

By the start of 2009, 3 billion of the world's 4 billion cell-phone subscriptions were in developing countries, up from one-fourth of the world's total in 2000, the Economist reported in September. Connecting the poor has major benefits for the developing world. An additional 10 cell phones per 100 people in a developing country raises per capita GDP 0.8 percentage points, a recent study found. Furthermore, research is showing that mobile phones and the Internet are making agriculture more efficient in developing countries.

And even though the economy headed south last year, cell-phone demand zoomed north to 4.6 billion mobile-phone subscriptions by the end of 2009, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced this week. That number is expected to reach 5 billion subscriptions sometime this year, and subscriptions that include broadband will pass the 1 billion mark at some point in 2010. The ITU even predicts that in the next five years, mobile Internet access (such as through laptops and "smart" mobile gizmos) will probably surpass Internet access from desktop computers!

And for more questions about how the world works, check out the rest of the FP Quiz.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images For The Clinton Foundation


If demographics are destiny, the fates aren't smiling on Greece

If I weren't Annie in Washington, but were, say, Anthea in Athens, I'd consider moving right about now. The Greek economy is cratering. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Taxes are rising. Social services are being slashed. Greece's participation in the European Union means that I can move and get a job anywhere in it, without a visa. So, I'd figure -- I'm young, childless, and college-educated. I'll try my prospects in Strasbourg for a couple years. 

The problem is: I'm useful to the Greek economy. I work hard and pay taxes, but don't use much in the way of social services like healthcare. I do spend plenty of my income on things like clothes and food, though, and might even open a business if given the chance. Alas, it seems, I am leaving Greece by the thousands.

I used Eurostat to make this chart of the growth changes in the Greek population, broken down by age group. Blue bands are growing and red are shrinking. Eurostat only had data up until 2009, but I imagine we will see trends accelerate in 2010, with a veritable exodus of young members of the work force. On one hand, this might leave jobs for other workers and therefore lower unemployment somewhat. On the other, the trend just does not bode well for the Greek economy.