A developing country is a country in which the majority of its inhabitants have a measurably relatively low standard of living in terms of economic and social conditions . This manifests itself primarily through a poor supply situation with food and consumer goods , poverty , malnutrition and hunger , restrictions in health care , a high child mortality rate and low life expectancy , inadequate educational opportunities , and a high rate of illiteracy and unemployment .
Which country is to be classified as a developing country or not depends on the yardstick against which the development of a country is measured (see section Common characteristics of developing countries ).
The term “developing country” comes from the technical and everyday language of development policy and is well known. A generally recognized definition does not exist - despite many approaches.
There are a number of synonyms for the term “developing country” , such as “ Third World ” or “ Fourth World ”, “ Global South ” or “ Trikont ”. These terms - like "developing country" - are partly controversial and are rejected by some experts.
“Development” is the core concept of the modern world, which suggests a quasi-natural law change to an allegedly better final state. However, modern ethnology doubts that such a purposeful process (see evolutionism ) exists. For example, hunters and gatherers used their resources very efficiently and sustainably; they enjoyed their own form of prosperity . Even traditional subsistence economies , which provide their members with all essential items from their own production, are not "underdeveloped", but simply structured differently .
From an economic point of view, critics of the term “developing country” object, for example, that it suggests a process that sometimes does not take place - or does not have to take place: namely development. One of the most prominent critics from this camp is the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal . The colloquial term “hungry country” is also used in the media to illustrate reporting on famine in developing countries, without this expression being able to be based on a definition.
No longer in use are "underdeveloped countries" ( underdeveloped countries ), "backward countries" ( backward countries ) or "non-developed countries" ( undeveloped countries ). These terms appeared for the first time in the UNO program of 1949, but they have strong values and can be perceived as offensive by the residents of the countries concerned. They are therefore no longer used by the UN and the World Bank . Occasionally, such terms are used intentionally to clearly address problems and avoid euphemisms .
International and national language regulations
Internationally there is no clear language regulation. So, for example, as a result of UN General Assembly in 1971, the least developed countries (LDCs) from the less developed countries ( Less Developed Countries : short LDCs ) distinguished. However, not all UN organizations differentiate between the two groups.
In German usage there is the problem of the translatability of the terms. The cumbersome expression “less developed countries” has therefore not caught on. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) uses either the English term “LDC” or the German, indefinite term “developing country”. The BMZ also makes no distinction between LDC and LLDC and abbreviates “Least Developed Countries” as LDC. The SDC ( Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation ; a federal authority in Switzerland; subordinate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (EDA) ) uses the term “partner country” in addition to the term “developing country”.
The expression north-south
The term “north-south” is also used by developing countries themselves. The term “North-South relations” has grown to replace the term “ development policy ”. The BMZ, for example, uses this designation. It is considered neutral or politically correct . The term does not imply that developing countries are necessarily located in the southern hemisphere.
Industrialized and non-industrialized countries
With " developed countries " to industrialized countries tried linguistically distinguished from developing countries. The historical industrialization of Europe cannot be compared with the processes that are taking place in developing countries today.
Some industrialized, former socialist countries (countries of the former Eastern Bloc ) are still characterized by their industrial past, in others (e.g. the Czech Republic and Slovakia) a strong industrial change has taken place (e.g. modernization, reduction of some branches of industry).
In many industrialized countries, the share of the industrial sector in gross national income is now less than that of the service sector (but they are not referred to as “service states”). For example, Great Britain is considered to be relatively de-industrialized (e.g. there has been a prolonged death of shipyards and collieries); this contributes to the country's large trade deficit and high annual net government debt for many years (see United Kingdom # State budget , UK economy (figures above right)).
The term Third World
The term “Third World” originates from the 1950s and initially referred to, analogous to the term Third Estate , the situation in which the majority of the world's population was largely politically without rights. Then the non-aligned states defined themselves as the Third World, which did not want to be ideologically captured by the East-West conflict . At the beginning of the 1980s (a few years before the end of the East-West conflict and at the height of the Cold War ) it was proposed that the term “Third World” no longer be used. Ulrich Menzel wrote in his book “End of the Third World”, published in 1992, that the Second World had disappeared; therefore no third world could exist anymore. Many former “third world groups” then called themselves “one world groups”. The BMZ hardly ever uses the term “Third World”; the term is still used in everyday language .
Rich and poor
The terms “ rich ” and “ poor ” do not adequately define a country's state of development. They are more likely to be used in connection with individual wealth . Poverty can also be found in countries with high average incomes (for example in Germany or Switzerland ) and wealth in developing countries (for example in the oil-exporting countries). The middle income is better suited to say something about social development than the average income . The same applies to medium wealth . Income distribution and wealth distribution are also important factors .
Education and development
Some development economists such as Nobel Prize winner Theodore W. Schultz have discovered that a farmer who can write and read is more productive in developing countries than an illiterate man. Therefore, they advocated investing in human capital (education, health, etc.) as an effective means of development. Others, like Mohammed Tamim , are of the opinion that since the industrial revolution in the 19th century the developing countries have been in a long transition phase from traditional ways of life to a modern way of life (social, economic and demographic cultural transition) and that development depends solely on the level of education ( from elementary school to university) is measurable. Therefore, the " take-off " described by Walt Whitman Rostov could take place in a country as soon as its population has a sufficient level of education. Where the level of education is high, the level of development is also high. Many researchers see a causality in this . Another connection - the level of education is inversely proportional to population growth - is believed by many to be causal.
Walt Whitman Rostow published the book The Stages of Economic Growth: A Noncommunist Manifesto in 1960 . Its contents and theses are collectively known as the take-off model . In it Rostov describes a sequence of five stages in economic development. Each individual state will go through this development; it always shows (despite certain deviations, differences or delays from case to case) basically the same course. Rostov's model is based on data on historical economic developments, especially in Europe and the USA. The developing countries are - in the terminology of this model - in phase three, the “take-off”. Phases three, four and five presuppose a certain level of education in a country's population.
Structural problems in developing countries and their causes
Structural problems generally have an effect over a longer period of time and are expressed in the networking of certain phenomena. Structures are basic elements and interdependencies that shape internal processes and responses in a system.
As a rule, many different factors are responsible for structural problems in developing countries. There are a number of development theories on the causes of these structural problems and the relatively low level of development in the countries concerned. Most theories place greater emphasis on either endogenous (caused by the country concerned) or exogenous (externally caused) factors. The aim of development policy is to eliminate these structural problems.
Structural problems and their interdependencies
Developing countries are characterized by the often inadequate ability to supply their own population with essential goods and services ; in other words: to enable her to live a decent life. In this context, the World Bank , for example, has shown that the majority of Latin American countries would be able to overcome mass poverty by just a small redistribution of the wealth there . So this is not a production problem, but a structural political problem.
Structural problems do not necessarily have to be of a political nature, but can also exist in other areas ( economy , society , environment, etc.). The undersupply of the population leads to poverty, hunger and thus lower productivity . This results in an even worse supply situation. Chronic malnutrition also inhibits mental and physical development (especially in children ). This limits their ability to improve their own situation through creativity or productivity, i.e. to develop.
Rapid population growth can have an equally serious impact on existing development problems. If the economic growth with population growth can not keep up, it is for example in cities to slums and unemployment as well as in rural areas to nutritional problems and inappropriate land use (accompanied by severe ecological damage).
Effects of petroleum crises on developing countries
The 1973 oil crisis led to an explosion in the price of petroleum . Oil-importing developing countries could not compensate for the resulting losses and were slowed down or set back in their development. In general, developing countries are more affected by oil crises than industrialized countries.
Common characteristics of developing countries
The characteristics are the symptoms of the structural problems. The so-called “feature lists”, which attempt to list the central development problems, have existed since the 1950s . It is controversial with which common characteristics the developing countries can be described, should such common characteristics even exist. The criticism of a catalog of characteristics for developing countries is primarily based on the fact that the similarities between two developing countries with regard to this catalog of characteristics do not necessarily have to be greater than between a developing country and an industrialized country. The characteristics listed in the list can also be observed in individual industrialized countries. Therefore, the classification of developing countries on the basis of schematized characteristics repeatedly raises questions, since the various characteristics and their relative importance are controversially discussed. In addition, there are interactions between the points mentioned.
A large part of the economic characteristics arise as a direct consequence of the low added value in developing countries. For example, a large proportion of the population in developing countries is usually active in the primary sector , where there is no great economic increase in value. The one-sided export pallet (eg. As agricultural goods and natural resources ) and the external focus on the industrial countries is also rooted in the colonial past .
Other economic characteristics are:
- low per capita income
- extremely unequal distribution of income and wealth (measured by the Gini coefficient )
- low savings and investment
- important role of the primary and informal sectors
- passive trade balance
- one-sided export pallet
- foreign trade orientation towards the industrialized countries
- bad real exchange ratio ( terms of trade )
- high foreign debt
- Capital flight
- strong regional disparities between the center and the periphery
- high unemployment
- insufficient infrastructure
Ecological problems are particularly common in developing countries . The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Watch Institute come to the conclusion that 90% of the world's species extinction , soil erosion and deforestation take place in developing countries . Since developing countries are typically heavily dependent on their natural resources as an economic basis, they are hit particularly hard by environmental crises. In the case of global environmental crises in particular, the role and responsibility of the industrialized countries must also be considered. The debate about the Kyoto Protocol is a current example of this.
Serious ecological features are:
- Environmental degradation through uncontrolled urbanization
- Soil degradation (e.g. salinization )
- Threat to biodiversity
- Destruction of the tropical forests
- Groundwater pollution from inadequate environmental standards
- Air pollution that is harmful to health in urban areas
The current development of the death and birth rate observed in many developing countries can be compared to the early phase of the demographic transition model . This means that their population dynamics can be characterized by a high birth rate and a high but strongly declining death rate (for example through better medical care). This leads to strong and often uncontrollable population growth, which is accompanied by an extreme rejuvenation of the population structure. Compared to the course of the demographic transition in today's industrialized countries, which began with industrialization, the transformative phase in developing countries is likely to be characterized by even more falling death rates, as they can fall back on already known medical knowledge. Modern pandemics (e.g. AIDS ), which have spread widely in some developing countries (around 40% of adults in Botswana are infected with HIV), can, however, thwart (thwart) this development and cause death rates to rise. In such a case the population pyramid is shaped like an hourglass. The most economically active part of the population is particularly affected, so that the country's economic performance is reduced.
Demographic characteristics are:
- high birth rate
- high but declining infant and child mortality rates
- high population growth
- low average life expectancy
- cross-border migration
- uncontrolled internal migration
Public health characteristics
The health of the population in developing countries is often problematic. This manifests itself, for example, in a low life expectancy and a high, but strongly declining, infant mortality rate. Due to lack of hygiene in slums (. Eg lack of wastewater treatment ), the population in slums particularly vulnerable to diseases and epidemics (such as cholera , as shown at right.).
Examples of public health characteristics:
- inadequate and / or unhealthy diet
- Lack of safe drinking water
- lack of wastewater treatment
- Health problems and inadequate medical care
- Deficiencies in school health education
- uncontrolled spread of pandemics (e.g. AIDS )
Socio-cultural characteristics are understood as the interaction of social, cultural and religious behavior. A socio-cultural characteristic of some developing countries is the disadvantage of women, which blocks development potential. A study by the World Bank came to the conclusion: “Investing in education for girls is the most effective individual investment a developing country can make.” The economic behavior of a rich upper class that hinders development can also be a socio-cultural characteristic.
Other socio-cultural characteristics:
- strong focus on primary groups (e.g. family / clan)
- low social mobility
- Child labor
- insufficient education , high illiteracy rate
- Treasury of the upper class instead of reinvestments
The political problems of developing countries have been given greater consideration again since the late 1980s. The political characteristics are not only the result of the political ineptitude of the political elite in a developing country, but also the inefficiency and stability of political institutions and the deficit of the state in the provinces. The functioning of a political system also depends on the political culture of a country. In addition, there is corruption , through which state revenues are not used for development programs in their own country, but for improper purposes.
Other political characteristics are:
- authoritarian state ( undemocratic structures, military dictatorships )
- Violations of human rights
- violent conflicts with surrounding countries and high arms spending
- low acceptance of political institutions in the population
- low taxation on top income
- Clientelism - cf. also patronage
- political instability
- Civil war or civil war-like state up to the collapse of statehood in general (state collapse - see also Warlord )
Lack of capital and insufficient resources
Often the items “insufficient factor allocation” or “lack of capital” appear in the feature lists. Inadequate factor endowment is used to describe characteristics that can be derived from geodeterminism : unfavorable climatic conditions , lack of land area (for example in an island state ), lack of mineral resources , isolation due to an inland location , etc. Critics doubt that an inadequate factor endowment or a lack of capital of a country inevitably indicates a developing country. These are therefore not typical features of developing countries; the lack of economic factors and capital can be offset by other measures.
The opposite conclusion is also not permissible: the presence of certain natural conditions, such as climate , soil or especially raw materials , does not automatically lead to development . In a number of many other factors, for example, the processing of raw materials, which only leads to higher added value, or a skilful policy that is able to convert the wealth of raw materials into development. The lack of capital is also overemphasized. The existence of capital does not yet constitute a country's development (example: oil-exporting countries). The following points prevent positive development even if the capital is available:
- Luxury consumption : These include treasures of the upper classes, corruption , low taxation of top incomes.
- Capital flight
- Profits transfer : The profits of foreign companies lead to a capital outflow of part of the domestically generated capital.
- high military spending
- Lack of good governance : deficit taxation (especially of the upper class), inefficient and therefore costly administrative structure, lack of legal certainty
The divisions of the UN
Less developed countries (LDCs) and least developed countries (LLDCs)
The division of developing countries into less developed and least developed countries is still common in the international arena, but even some UN organizations no longer differentiate between them. The separation of the LLDC states took place at a UN General Assembly in 1971. There is no German equivalent for these terms. Following a reform in 1991, this is done using four criteria:
- Gross domestic product per capita averaging under $ 900 in 3 years
- Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) - describes the vulnerability of societies and replaces the old index of economic diversification (EDI). It is based on the exports , instability in export earnings, the agricultural production and the share of processed industry and services on GDP .
- Human Assets Index (HAI) - provides information about social characteristics such as health and education . Historically, it replaces the earlier Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index (APQLI). It provides information on the availability of food energy per capita in% of the minimum requirement , the child mortality rate , the literacy rate among adults and the enrollment rate in secondary schools .
- A population of a maximum of 75 million people
The differentiated underlying indicators enjoy a high level of acceptance worldwide. The population indicator, on the basis of which this classification says little about the actual distribution of poverty in the world, the possible political instrumentalization of this classification and the fact that the classification is very complex is criticized.
Admission to the LLDC countries may well be desirable for the country concerned, since in the donor countries the quality of development policy is often measured by its focus on the LLDC countries. Therefore, these preferred nichtrückzuzahlende grants (received grants ), or loans on more favorable terms ( International Development Association , IDA).
UN country groupings as a result of the oil crisis
The abbreviations "MSAC", "LLDC" and "SIDS" conceal further UN classifications . The term "MSAC" (English Most Seriously Affected Countries for most strongly affected countries ) was created as a result of the oil crisis in 1973 and designated a UN special program for affected most countries. This division disappeared from the UN vocabulary in the late 1980s . The names "LLDC" and "SIDS" have remained.
With LLDCs ( English landlocked developing countries for developing countries without access to the sea ) countries are referred to, their foreign trade considerably suffers from its offshore location. These include Rwanda , Burundi , Nepal and, in South America , Bolivia, for example . Due to their unfavorable location, both imports and exports can become considerably more expensive.
The small island developing States ( Small Iceland Developing States , shortly SIDS ) formed up later for Alliance of Small Island States ( English Association of Small Iceland States , in short, AOSIS ). Its members represent common interests, for example in environmental issues such as B. Sea level rise, as the island states would be particularly affected by the consequences of global warming .
The Human Development Index (HDI)
In 1990 the UNDP ( United Nations Development Program ), the development program of the United Nations , attempted to draft an alternative to the one-dimensional concept of the World Bank . Increasingly, social factors should also be taken into account. The Human Development Index (HDI) is in the published annually by the UNDP report on human development (English Human Development Report published HDR).
Criticism of the HDI came largely from political motivations: women's groups complained about the high position of Japan , East Asian countries against the assessment of their human rights situation and other countries because of their grouping in front of or behind a certain other country. At the request of India , the HDI has not been mentioned in official UN documents since the mid-1990s.
Classifications of the World Bank
The classic classification of the World Bank according to per capita income
In contrast to the UN divisions into LDC and LLDC, the World Bank measures the eligibility of a country exclusively with the per capita income or the gross national income per capita. It distinguishes between four categories (the upper limits can change from year to year, due to inflation and rising):
- Low median income per capita: up to $ 1,035 in 2019 (29 countries)
- lower middle group: $ 1,036 to $ 4,045 (50 countries)
- Upper middle group: $ 4,046 to $ 12,535 (56 countries)
- high median income per capita: more than $ 12,535 (83 countries)
The World Bank uses this classification as an analytical database for its lending practice. In the parlance of the Bretton Woods institutions , the term “Developing Countries” is otherwise used. The World Bank also makes it clear that the division into these groups according to per capita income does not necessarily reflect the level of development of a country.
The great advantage of this classification is its simple structure. Due to the often raised and justified methodological objections to the restriction to the per capita income, the classification of the World Bank has only limited informative value about the development of individual countries. But there is also a reason for this: the World Bank is a bank and, in contrast to the UN, naturally restricts itself to economic factors.
The emphasis on the debt burden
Due to the great developmental importance of the debt burden of developing countries, the World Bank has created the additional groups “SILIC” ( heavily indebted countries with low income ) and “SIMIC” ( heavily indebted countries with middle income ). The latter are classified as “moderately indebted” ( MIMIC ) and “little indebted” ( LIMIC ).
“Heavily indebted” means that three out of four key figures exceed a critical mark. “Moderately indebted countries” are those that exceed 60% of the critical mark in three out of four indicators, but do not reach it. The rest are referred to as "less indebted countries". The four indicators are (the values in brackets indicate the critical mark):
- Ratio between debt and GNI (50%)
- Debt ratio (275%)
- Debt service ratio (30%)
- Interest burden on debt service (20%)
The four key indicators point to central problems in indebted developing countries. However, the critical brand is of vital importance and therefore highly controversial. During the 1990s, was part of the SILIC no longer carry their debt burden alone, they were under the concept Heavily Indebted Poor Countries ( Heavily Indebted Poor Countries , in short HIPC ) summarized and 1996 initiated into one of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) large-scale debt relief initiative , the so-called HIPC initiative . The expanded HIPC initiative currently includes 38 countries, of which only 22 are SILIC.
The oil exporting countries
The notion of “rich” oil exporting countries (mostly a projection of the rich and small Gulf States ) is wrong. In a ranking that also takes social indicators into account in addition to per capita income, the Arab states , for example, do very poorly. Thanks to their oil reserves and the policies of OPEC , they were able to record huge leaps in income, but were unable to supply their productive forces with essential goods and services. Billions of oil were used for unproductive purposes such as luxury or the eight year war between Iraq and Iran . In countries like Nigeria and Iran , the income from the oil business helped ailing and human rights-hostile regimes to stay in power. Franz Nuscheler therefore also describes the oil-exporting countries as a “ Fata Morgana of development”.
Oil-exporting countries play a special role in the group of developing countries: they have a good that the industrialized countries absolutely need. The OPEC states hold around 3/4 of the world's oil reserves and 2/3 of the world's reserves are in the Middle East. This creates a strengthened global negotiating position that gives them some political power. There are good reasons why one differentiates the oil-exporting countries from the LDC and LLDC. Through their oil income, they have a potential for development that other developing countries do not have. These countries will remain relevant in global politics in the future, in contrast to some other developing countries, which fell into an irrelevance trap after the end of the Cold War. The industrialized countries still need the coveted oil and thus the oil-exporting countries will retain their strategic and geopolitical importance.
Emerging countries ( Newly Industrializing Economies ) are a group of countries that are traditionally still counted among the developing countries, but no longer have their typical characteristics . That is why they are conceptually separated from developing countries. The German name suggests that they are on the threshold of an industrialized state , but this "threshold" is not defined. The English-language term originated in the 70s and originally referred to the Asian tiger states .
Lists of emerging economies have been drawn up by various sources ( World Bank , OECD , IMF , EC ) over the past few decades. However, there is no binding list of emerging countries; the number varies between 10 and 30. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) each categorize 10 countries as emerging countries. In contrast, the OECD shows significantly more countries than emerging economies. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union made a joint attempt to implement social and political indicators to identify emerging countries, but were rejected at international level. The BMZ then withdrew its list of 30 emerging countries, which also included Ecuador and Nicaragua .
The following reasons speak for a separate country group:
- Their development deficits have different historical and cultural causes than those of typical developing countries. You go through typical problems in the transition from the plan to the market economy .
- You have highly developed human capital . However, there are differences between the Caucasian , Central Asian and European countries.
- They have a differentiated industrial structure and a technological development potential, and in this respect they differ significantly from developing countries.
- The European states benefit from their proximity to the EU, which means they can hope for Western investors and access to the EU market.
- Russia is still a potential military and political superpower , an energy power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a permanent guest of the G-7 (2006-2014 full member).
In the transition countries, a distinction is made between those countries that have become part of the First World through their collective integration into the EU ( Poland , the Czech Republic , Hungary , Slovakia , Slovenia , Lithuania , Latvia , Estonia , Romania , Bulgaria ) and the Newly Declining Countries ( NDC), which are still between further decline and stabilization efforts (especially countries in Central Asia, e.g. Uzbekistan ).
A number of states can currently be assigned neither to one nor the other group. Due to the rise in raw material prices, the economies in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have grown nominally strongly in recent years; Which group these two countries will belong to in the future depends on whether the income is successfully used to diversify the economy and improve the education system. Economic reforms have been carried out in Georgia since Mikheil Saakashvili's inauguration, and the country also benefits from transit income from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which was inaugurated in 2006 . Georgia is now pursuing the goal of becoming a member of the EU and NATO. Armenia has had double-digit economic growth since 2002. Since the completion of the first phase of eastward enlargement, the EU has shown increasing interest in the Caucasus (more precisely: Transcaucasia , i.e. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan). In the context of the European Neighborhood Policy , partnership and cooperation agreements will probably be concluded with the three countries mentioned in 2006.
The group of Failed States was formed through the violent and bloody conflicts of the 1990s . The failed states appear as a group of countries for the first time in an article by Le Monde diplomatique in 1999. They are characterized by the complete collapse of the state apparatus , whereby the state (or remnants of it) is no longer able to control its territory , no longer offers state services and a political order is no longer recognizable. As a result, these countries fall outside the scope of development theories as well as the target area of development policy . They include mostly African countries such as DR Congo , Liberia , Somalia and Sierra Leone . In addition, the order vacuum that arises here creates special demands on development policy and security policy , since the crises in such countries threaten the development and security of entire regions and ultimately the entire world (international terrorism ). How such states should be dealt with is still unclear in global politics.
- European Union development policy
- Development strategy
- Sustainable development
- Agriculture in Developing Countries
- Developing Countries and the World Economy
- Sociology of development
- Right to development
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