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Beggar Thy Neighbour

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 11, 2008 at 02:02

In Reply to: Beggar Thy Neighbour posted by Julia on October 10, 2008 at 09:49:

: What is the meaning of Beggar Thy Neighbour?

You probably didn't see this phrase in connection with the children's card game, Beggar-my-neighbour, popular to some degree from the 18th century on. But the game is the model for the common use of the phrase in describing economic policies between, and also within, nations, that is, best known on an international scale but widely applicable elsewhere.

Some nations adopt policies for their gain which are at the expense of some other nation. Getting a monopoly or some greater share of some limited resource is a good example. If my country takes more fish out of the sea, there are fewer fish for the others. Economists prefer policies that they call win-win, in which greater trade benefits both countries. "Beggar-thy-neighbour" policies not only tend to enrich one side at the expense of the other, they can create long-standing grudges and resentment, as well as significant instability.

This is better expressed on many Websites, including the Wikipedia. See: