Issues facing the third world today:

  • Poverty: 1+ billion people live in poverty and growing.
  • Globalization: Greater interdependence among countries in the world and the third world has begun to globalize more rapidly within the past few decades.
  • Weak States: Many third world countries have failed states - where national governments cannot maintain law and order or provide basic services to their people.
  • Resources: Many third world countries experience chronic food shortages and many of their citizens lack access to clean water.
-->2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, this is almost two fifths of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF)More Facts
  • Healthcare in the Developing World: Many third world countries are subject to impoverished and deject conditions. Healthcare is being impeded by the social stigma attributed to being tested for certain diseases (i.e. AIDS), lack of medical resources, lack of transportation. Leaders are inefficiant for providing healthcare for the developing world.
  • Dependency Theory- the idea that developing nations rely on richer countries and are stuck in poverty because of this reliance.

A developing country is one that has a low level of material well being. From this definition, it is apparent that either classifying a country as developed or developing is flexible. For example, the IMF considers certain countries that the UN considers to be developed as developing and vice versa. The IMF uses a flexible system that is based on the following three statistics to determine whether a country is developed: 1) per capita income level, 2) export diversification, and 3) degree of integration into the global financial system.
external image 350px-World_Bank_income_groups.svg.png
High income (blue)
Upper-middle income (green)
Lower-middle income (purple)
Low income (red)

To help with the IMF’s first statistic, the per capita income level, look at the map above. The second statistic, export diversification, is in place to ensure that no developing country has an economy based on one or two main industries. This affects many oil-producing countries, like Nigeria and Iran. Since these economies are based mostly on the export of oil (Iran is the second most producing OPEC member), these countries are considered developing.

external image 350px-UN_Human_Development_Report_2009.PNG

Dark Green is the Highest HDI and Brown is the lowest HDI. Gray means no data was available.

The Map above shows the UN’s Human Development Index for all countries that data was available for. It is apparent that Africa and Asia contain most of the countries with lower HDIs. There is a strong correlation between a low HDI and developing countries.

How Human Geography described developing and developed (underdeveloped is not so optimistic of a term) nations using the Demographic Transition Model:
File:DTM Pyramids.svg
File:DTM Pyramids.svg

Most developed countries are in stage 3 or 4, and most developing countries are in stage 2 or 3.
Stage 1: High death rates, High birth rates (The total population is relatively stable and sustainable at a particular level)
Stage 2: Decreasing death rates, High birth rates (The total population begins to grow)
Stage 3: Decreasing death rates, decreasing birth rates (The total population starts to level off)
Stage 4: Low death rates, Low birth rates (The population is once again stable)
All this is catalysed by internal changes within a nation, such as the acquisition of new resources, disease, the event of war, industrialization, improved medical opportunities, the improvement of social status and education of minorities, and general technological improvements.

Many developing nations are in debt and poverty partly due to the policies of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Factors such as the following lead to further misery for the developing nations and keep them dependent on developed nations:
  • Poor countries must export more in order to raise enough money to pay off their debts in a timely manner.
  • Because there are so many nations being asked or forced into the global market place—before they are economically and socially stable and ready—and told to concentrate on similar cash crops and commodities as others, the situation resembles a large-scale price war.
  • Then, the resources from the poorer regions become even cheaper, which favors consumers in the West.
  • Governments then need to increase exports just to keep their currencies stable (which may not be sustainable, either) and earn foreign exchange with which to help pay off debts.
  • Governments therefore must:
    • spend less
    • reduce consumption
    • remove or decrease financial regulations
    • and so on.
  • Over time then:
    • the value of labor decreases
    • capital flows become more volatile
    • a spiraling race to the bottom then begins, which generates
    • social unrest, which in turn leads to IMF riots and protests around the world
  • These nations are then told to peg their currencies to the dollar. But keeping the exchange rate stable is costly due to measures such as increased interest rates.
  • Investors obviously concerned about their assets and interests can then pull outvery easily if things get tough
    • In the worst cases, capital flight can lead to economic collapse, such as we saw in the Asian/global financial crises of 1997/98/99, or in Mexico, Brazil, and many other places. During and after a crisis, the mainstream media and free trade economists lay the blame on emerging markets and their governments’ restrictive or inefficient policies, crony capitalism, etc., which is a cruel irony.
  • When IMF donors keep the exchange rates in their favor, it often means that the poor nations remain poor, or get even poorer. Even the 1997/98/99 global financial crisis can be partly blamed on structural adjustment and early, overly aggressive deregulation for emerging economies.
  • Millions of children end up dying each year.