World Development


  1. Categorizing World Development.
  2. Development Characteristics
  3. Development, Resources, Power
  4. Questions

Categorizing World Development

Countries are categorized by their economic development. A common categorization of countries that was used during the Cold War period incorporated government idealogy such as capitalism and communism. This system, where poorer countries are labeled as the Third World, has as its "First World" the Capitalist countries, and as its second world the Communist countries. The problem with this categorization, was that countries were grouped based on both idealogy and capitalist development.

A two-tiered classification system that was based only on development was established. The terms, Developed Country (DC), and Undeveloped Country (UDC), were adopted as classification categories. Occasionally, some countries didn't fall into these two new categories.

The three-tiered classification system, the one that is commonly used today, was then established. In this system, countries are divided into three categories: LDC (Less developed country), MDC (Moderately developed country), HDC (Highly developed country). Characteristics that determine to which category a country belongs include: Gross National Product (GNP) per capita, transportation and communication facilities, consumption of energy and literacy, and the countries unemploym

Development Characteristics

LDC's are characterized by a marginal physical environment. The countries that fall into this category are, most of African countries, and many of thee Asian countries. The LDC countries have the following characteristics:

  1. Little to no build-up of agriculture
  2. Low energy production and consumption
  3. Subsistance farming (farm only for themselves)
  4. Large percentage of the population is under 15 (causing a high birthrate because a large percentage of the population is entering it's "reproductive stage")
  5. Infant mortality rate is high
  6. Poorly developed trade and transportation
  7. Poor medical facilities
  8. High illiteracy and unemployment rates
  9. GNP is under $3,000 per year.

MDC's are countries that are a moderation of LDC and HDC. These countries have classifications that fit into both of the LDC and HDC categories and the GNP ranges from $4,000 - $10,000. Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico and the Bahamas are examples of MDC's.

HDC's are countries that are advanced in many ways. The countries that fall into this category are the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and most of the Western European countries. A HDC country must fall into these categories: 1.Extensive trade contacts 2.Advanced internal communication systems 3.Dense transportation networks 4.High energy production and consumption 5.Advanced medical facilities 6.Low population growth 7.High level of urbanization 8.GNP exceeds $10,000 per year 9.Has strong military control

Development, Resources and Power

HDC's burn a large portion of the world's fossil fuels. For example, the U.S. burns 25-40% of the world's energy but only has 4.6% of the world's population. This creates a problem because these resources are non-renewable. According to some estimates, oil has about one hundred years left before it is depleted. Coal has about three hundred years left before it is used up.

Because many HDC's depend on fossil fuels, military intervention, like the U.S.'s Middle East involvement in the early 1990's, is sometimes necessary to guarantee a supply of this resource.

It can be aruged that HDC's actually aren't the most developed countries. More idealistic goals of an HDC might be: 1. Inclusion of all age groups and people in economic prosperity. 2. Careful use of resources. 3. A stable society in which young people can find their "place". 4. Development of technology that enhances standards of living instead of finding better ways of killing people. Many HDC's don't meet these idealistic goals for a highly developed country.

The future of MDC's and LDC's lies in the hands of HDC's. HDC's are able to maintain the status quo, because the HDC's are more educated and more advanced than the other countries in the world. One factor that keeps power in the hands of the HDC's is "brain drain". The "brain drain" effect can be seen in our society today as educated people from other countries come to our country, thereby draining their country of an educated population.


1.Countries of the world can be divided into three categories. These include the Highly Developed Countries (HDC's), Moderately Developed Countries (MDC's), and Less Developed Countries (LDC's). Some believe that LDC countries will never achieve the prosperity of the HDC countries. In this respect, the primary goal of HDC countries is to: (A.) increase the wealth of MDC countries (B.) increase the wealth of LDC countries (C.) maintain the status quo (politically, economically and socially) (D.) reject trickle down economics (E.) All of the above

2.HDC countries have (A.) extensive trade contacts (B.) dense transportation networks (C.) high energy production (D.) advanced medical facilities (E.) all of the above

3. Which of the following countries have the highest per-capita GNP ? (A.) Switzerland (B.) Canada (C.) Sweden (D.) Brunei (E.) USA

4.The countries of Uganda, Mexico, and the United States are examples of countries that (A.) are all in the MDC category (B.) are in the MDC, LDC, and HDC categories respectively (C.) in the early exspanding, late exspanding and low-stationary stages respectively of the demographic transition (D.) in the late exspanding, early exspanding and low-stationary stages of the demographic transition (E.) None of the above

5.Which of the following countries has the highest GNI PPP? (A.) Germany (B.) Sweden (C.) United States (D.) Switzerland (E.) Japan

6.All of the following are characteristics of LDC countries, except (A.) marginal physical environments (B.) subsistence farming (C.) large percent of population under the age of 15 (D.) high energy production and consumption (E.) illiteracy is high

7.All of the following are characteristics of MDC countries, except (A.) GNI PPP ranges from $4,000 - $10,00 per year. (B.) include the country of Saudi Arabia and Brazil (C.) include the country of Mexico and the Bahamas (D.) include the country of the United States (E.) None of the above

8.How much longer will oil last if we keep using it up at such a rapid rate ? (A.) 100yrs (B.) 200yrs (C.) 300yrs (D.) 400yrs (E.) 500yrs

Submitted by Lisa Cornell on 03/03/96. Update submitted by Christy Fossum on 10-13-96. Updated submitted by Kathy Daley on 2-20-97 Update sumitted by Marcus Donte Ivy on 6/09/97.