Developing Countries – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what a developing country is, its characteristics and examples. Also, what are the sources of underdevelopment.

Developing countries
Developing countries are industrialized but struggle against poverty.

What is a developing country?

In certain economic terminology, developing countries, developing countries or intermediate developing countries are known as those nations that They have economies in an intermediate state between the levels considered “developed” and the levels attributed to “underdevelopment”.

Although the use of this term is still common, it has also been highly criticized within specialized fields, where it is considered imprecise and out of date.

Traditionally, developing countries constituted a kind of “second world” between the so-called First and Third worlds. The idea was to distinguish between countries whose insurgent economies are propelling them toward a modern, industrialized way of life, and those nations that, in some way, have lagged behind in the race.

However, the boundaries between an underdeveloped country and a “developing” country are not at all clear, and there are cases in which both terms are used interchangeably. In any case, the criteria used for this type of categorization are usually mainly economic and commercial, although the Human Development Index (HDI) is also usually taken into account.

Generally, developing countries are those that they have very industrialized and modern sides, but still struggle with poverty and the marginalization of an important sector of its populations. On the other hand, the nations considered “developed” are those that show sustained or continuous economic growth.

In many contexts, the use of “low-income countries” is preferred to refer to nations in this economic situation. Thus, it is avoided that the term is stigmatizing or conveys the feeling that there are winners and losers in the economic race, but rather that there are complex and individual situations that can hardly be fully described by an economic indicator.

In fact, since 2016 the World Bank has stopped using this terminology and prefers to refer to nations according to their belonging to certain geographic-cultural blocs.

Characteristics of developing countries

Although these criteria may vary depending on the source consulted, in general the following characteristics are attributed to developing countries:

  • Constitute a second link in the levels of quality of life, between the developed world and the underdeveloped world.
  • They have a human development index (HDI) above 0.800 or, failing that, they have a per capita income equal to or greater than $ 8,000.
  • Possess modern life expectancies and literacy levels, that is to say, close to the minimum levels required for a developed nation.
  • Their economies are still highly dependent on agriculture and the export of raw materials.
  • They may have certain margins of tolerance from international organizations like the WTO, when it comes to signing agreements and fulfilling trade commitments.

Examples from developing countries

Some of the countries traditionally considered “developing” are:

  • Argentina
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • chili
  • Uruguay
  • Ghana
  • Egypt
  • Cameroon
  • Nigeria
  • Ivory Coast
  • Vietnam
  • Iran
  • Armenia
  • Pakistan
  • Ukraine
  • Moldova
  • Serbia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • South Africa
  • China
  • Taste
  • Bahrain
  • Romania
  • Montenegro
  • Croatia
  • Russia
  • Thailand

Sources of underdevelopment

developing countries causes
In developing countries much of the economy is informal.

It is difficult to determine the causes of underdevelopment in the countries. There are those who accuse historical reasons, such as the influence of colonialism European in the so-called Third World, since precisely the most developed nations were those that benefited from the plundering of the weaker nations.

Others prefer to attribute underdevelopment to low availability of economic resources exploitable in the environment and to the late or no historical emergence of a work culture that would take advantage of them. The truth is most likely a combination of several factors, including those mentioned above.

However, it is known that some typical features of underdeveloped countries are the following:

  • Dependent economies of the markets (and politics) of the first world, subjected to the ups and downs of their commercial demand.
  • Economies almost entirely dedicated to agriculture and / or the export of raw materials.
  • Unfavorable trade balances, in which most of the manufactured products and technology are imported.
  • Institutional weakness and high margins of corruption, inefficiency and injustice.
  • Important margins of poverty, economic informality and urban violence.
  • High birth rates and little employment capacity for labor (high unemployment).
  • Low class mobility.
  • Vulnerable populations to the influence of large transnational corporations.