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Developed countries are shown in blue (According to the IMF, as of 2008).

The term developed country is used to describe countries that have a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue and is surrounded by fierce debate. Economic criteria have tended to dominate discussions. One such criterion is income per capita; countries with high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita would thus be described as developed countries. Another economic criterion is industrialization; countries in which the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry dominate would thus be described as developed. More recently another measure, the Human Development Index, which combines with an economic measure, national income, with other measures, indices for life expectancy and education has become prominent. This criterion would define developed countries as those with a very high (HDI) rating. However, many anomalies exist when determining "developed" status by whichever measure is used.

Countries not fitting such definitions are classified as developing countries.


Similar terms

Terms similar to developed country include advanced country, industrialized country, more developed country (MDC), more economically developed country (MEDC), Global North country, first world country, and post-industrial country. The term industrialized country may be somewhat ambiguous, as industrialization is an ongoing process that is hard to define. The term MEDC is one used by modern geographers to specifically describe the status of the countries referred to: more economically developed. The first industrialised country was Britain, followed by Belgium (Wallonia), Germany, United States, France and other Western European countries. According to some economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, however, the current divide between the developed and developing world is largely a phenomenon of the 20th century.[1]


Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, defined a developed country as follows. " A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment."[2] But according to the United Nations Statistics Division,

There is no established convention for the designation of "developed" and "developing" countries or areas in the United Nations system.[3]

And it notes that

The designations "developed" and developing" are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.[4]

The UN also notes

In common practice, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania, and Europe are considered "developed" regions or areas. In international trade statistics, the Southern African Customs Union is also treated as a developed region and Israel as a developed country; countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia are treated as developing countries; and countries of eastern Europe and of the Commonwealth of Independent States (code 172) in Europe are not included under either developed or developing regions.[3]

According to the classification from IMF before April 2004, all the countries of Eastern Europe (including Central European countries which still belongs to "Eastern Europe Group" in the UN institutions) as well as the former Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and Mongolia, were not included under either developed or developing regions, but rather were referred to as "countries in transition"; however they are now widely regarded (in the international reports) as "developing countries". In the 21st century, the original Four Asian Tigers which are the[5] regions (Hong Kong), and the countries [5][6] Taiwan, Singapore and[5][6] South Korea[5][6][7][8][5][6]) are considered "developed" region or areas, along with Cyprus,[6] Israel,[6] and Slovenia,[6] considered "newly developed countries".

Human Development Index

World map indicating the Human Development Index (based on 2007 data, published on October 5, 2009)[citation needed]
     0.950 and Over      0.900–0.949      0.850–0.899      0.800–0.849      0.750–0.799      0.700–0.749      0.650–0.699      0.600–0.649      0.550–0.599      0.500–0.549      0.450–0.499      0.400–0.449      0.350–0.399      under 0.350      not available
(Color-blind compliant map) For red-green color vision problems.

The UN HDI is a statistical measure that gauges a country's level of human development. While there is a strong correlation between having a high HDI score and a prosperous economy, the UN points out that the HDI accounts for more than income or productivity. Unlike GDP per capita or per capita income, the HDI takes into account how income is turned "into education and health opportunities and therefore into higher levels of human development." A few examples are Italy and the United States. Despite a relatively large difference in GDP per capita, both countries rank roughly equal in term of overall human development.[9] Since 1980, Norway (2001-2006 and 2009), Japan (1990-91 and 1993), Canada (1992 and 1994-2000) and Iceland (2007-08) have had the highest HDI score. Countries with a score of over 0.800 are considered to have a "high" standard of human development. The top 38 countries have scores ranging from 0.902 in Malta to 0.971 in Norway.[10]

Many countries listed by IMF or[11] CIA as "advanced" (as of 2009), possess an HDI over 0.9 (as of 2007). Many countries[12] possessing an HDI of 0.9 and over (as of 2007), are also listed by IMF or CIA as "advanced" (as of 2009). Thus, many "advanced economies" (as of 2009) are characterized by an HDI score of 0.9 or higher (as of 2007).

The latest index was released on October 5, 2009 and covers the period up to 2007. The following are the 38 countries classified as possessing a "Very high human development" with an HDI at or above 0.900.[13]

  1.  Norway 0.971 ()
  2.  Australia 0.970 ()
  3.  Iceland 0.969 ()
  4.  Canada 0.966 ()
  5.  Ireland 0.965 ()
  6.  Netherlands 0.964 ( 1)
  7.  Sweden 0.963 ( 1)
  8.  France 0.961 ( 3)
  9.  Switzerland 0.960 ()
  10.  Japan 0.960 ()
  11.  Luxembourg 0.960 ( 3)
  12.  Finland 0.959 ( 1)
  13.  United States 0.956 ( 1)
  1.  Austria 0.955 ( 2)
  2.  Spain 0.955 ()
  3.  Denmark 0.955 ( 2)
  4.  Belgium 0.953 ()
  5.  Italy 0.951 ( 1)
  6.  Liechtenstein 0.951 ( 1)
  7.  New Zealand 0.950 ()
  8.  United Kingdom 0.947 ()
  9.  Germany 0.947 ()
  10.  Singapore 0.944 ( 1)
  11.  Hong Kong 0.944 ( 1)
  12.  Greece 0.942 ()
  13.  South Korea 0.937 ()
  1.  Israel 0.935 ( 1)
  2.  Andorra 0.934 ( 1)
  3.  Slovenia 0.929 ()
  4.  Brunei 0.920 ()
  5.  Kuwait 0.916 ()
  6.  Cyprus 0.914 ()
  7.  Qatar 0.910 ( 1)
  8.  Portugal 0.909 ( 1)
  9.  United Arab Emirates 0.903 ( 2)
  10.  Czech Republic 0.903 ()
  11.  Barbados 0.903 ( 2)
  12.  Malta 0.902 ( 3)

Other lists of Developed Countries

Only three institutions have produced lists of "developed countries". The three institutions and their lists are the UN list (shown above), the CIA[14] list and the FTSE Group's list, whose list is not included because its association of developed countries with countries with both high incomes and developed markets is not deemed as directly relevant here.[15] However many institutions have created lists which are sometimes referred to when people are discussing developed countries. The IMF identifies 34 "advanced economies",[6] The OECD, also widely known as the 'developed countries club' [16][17][18] has 30 members. The World Bank identifies 66 "high income countries". The EIU's Quality-of-life survey and a list of countries with welfare states are also included here. The criteria for using all these lists and for countries' inclusion on these lists are often not properly spelt out, and several of these lists are based on old data.

IMF advanced economies

     Countries described as Advanced Economies by the IMF.

According to the International Monetary Fund the following 34 countries are classified as "advanced economies":[6]

 Australia  Germany  Malta  South Korea
 Austria  Greece  Netherlands  Spain
 Belgium  Hong Kong  New Zealand  Sweden
 Canada  Iceland  Norway  Switzerland
 Cyprus  Ireland  Portugal  Taiwan
 Czech Republic  Israel  San Marino[19]  United Kingdom
 Denmark  Italy  Singapore  United States
 Finland  Japan  Slovakia
 France  Luxembourg  Slovenia

The CIA has a modified version of an old version of the IMF's list of Advanced Economies. The CIA notes that the IMF's Advanced Economies list "would presumably also cover"[14] some smaller countries. They are:

 Andorra  Faroe Islands  Monaco  Bermuda  Holy See  Liechtenstein

The CIA list does not include Cyprus, Czech Republic, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia which have all been added to the IMF's list since the CIA's made its presumptions about the IMF list, but it includes Turkey.

Development Assistance Committee members

Members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

There are 24 members—selected 23 OECD member countries and the European Commission—in the Development Assistance Committee,[20] a group of the world's major donor countries that discuss issues surrounding development aid and poverty reduction in developing countries.[21] As of 2010, the following OECD member countries are DAC members:

 Australia  Finland  Japan  South Korea
 Austria  France  Luxembourg  Spain
 Belgium  Germany  Netherlands  Sweden
 Canada  Greece  New Zealand  Switzerland
 Denmark  Ireland  Norway  United Kingdom
 Italy  Portugal  United States

The DAC membership excludes the following OECD members: Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey.

High-income OECD members

There are 27 High-income OECD members,[22] although there are three other OECD members (Mexico, Poland and Turkey) that are not high-income members. These countries are listed as upper-middle-income economies. Israel is expected to join OECD in May 2010.[23] As of 2010, the High-income OECD membership is as follows:

21 countries in Europe:

 Austria  Greece  Norway
 Belgium  Hungary  Portugal
 Czech Republic  Iceland  Slovakia
 Denmark  Ireland  Spain
 Finland  Italy  Sweden
 France  Luxembourg  Switzerland
 Germany  Netherlands  United Kingdom

2 countries in Asia:

 South Korea

2 countries in North America:

 United States

2 countries in Oceania:

 New Zealand

World Bank high-income economies

"High income economies" are defined by the World Bank as countries with a Gross National Income per capita of $11,906 or more in 2008.[24] According to the United Nations definition some high income countries may also be developing countries. Thus, a high income country may be classified as either developed or developing.[25]

According to the World Bank, the following 67 countries and territories are classified as "high-income economies":[26][27][28]

     High income      Upper-middle income      Lower-middle income      Low income

High-income economy not classified by World Bank:

Quality-of-life survey

Research about standards of living and quality of life by the Economist Intelligence Unit resulted in a quality-of-life index. As of 2005, the highest ranked countries are:[29]

  1. Republic of Ireland Ireland
  2. Switzerland Switzerland
  3. Norway Norway
  4. Luxembourg Luxembourg
  5. Sweden Sweden
  6. Australia Australia
  1. Iceland Iceland
  2. Italy Italy
  3. Denmark Denmark
  4. Spain Spain
  5. Singapore Singapore
  6. Finland Finland
  1. United States United States
  2. Canada Canada
  3. New Zealand New Zealand
  4. Netherlands Netherlands
  5. Japan Japan
  6. Hong Kong Hong Kong
  1. Portugal Portugal
  2. Austria Austria
  3. Republic of China Taiwan
  4. Greece Greece
  5. Cyprus Cyprus
  6. Belgium Belgium
  1. France France
  2. Germany Germany
  3. Slovenia Slovenia
  4. Malta Malta
  5. United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6. South Korea South Korea

See also


  1. ^ Sachs, Jeffrey (2005). The End of Poverty. The Penguin Press. ISBN 1-59420-045-9. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings (footnote C)". United Nations Statistics Division. revised 17 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i IMF Advanced Economies List. World Economic Outlook, Database—WEO Groups and Aggregates Information, October 2009.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "UN. (2006). Human Development Report.". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  10. ^ "UN. (2008). Human Development Index: A Statistical Update.".,15493,en.html. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  11. ^ The official classification of "advanced countries" is originally made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF list doesn't deal with non-IMF members. The CIA intends to follow IMF list but adds few countries which aren't dealt with by IMF due to their not being IMF members. By May 2001, the advanced country list of the CIA was more comprehensive than the original IMF list. However, since May 2001, three additional countries (Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia) have been added to the original IMF list, thus leaving the CIA list not updated.
  12. ^ Namely sovereign states, i.e. excluding Macau: In 2003 the government of Macau calculated its HDI as being 0.909 (the UN does not calculate Macau's HDI); In January 2007, the People's Daily reported (from China Modernization Report 2007): "In 2004...Macau...had reached the level of developed countries". However, Macau is not recognized by any international organisation as a developed/advanced territory, while the UNCTAD organisaion (of the UN), as well as the CIA, classify Macao as a "developing" territory. The World Bank classifies Macau as a high income economy (along with developed economies as well as with few developing economies).
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ a b CIA (2008). "Appendix B. International Organizations and Groups. World Factbook.". Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  15. ^ The Developed Countries Glossary entry reads: "The following countries are classified by FTSE as developed countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States."
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund, October 2009, second paragraph, line 9–10.
  20. ^,3343,en_2649_34603_1893350_1_1_1_1,00.html
  21. ^ DAC website >> "The DAC in Dates", On the DAC's self-description, see the introductory letter. On other events, refer to the relevant section by date.
  22. ^,,contentMDK:20421402~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ "World Bank, Country Classification".,,contentMDK:20420458~menuPK:64133156~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  25. ^ "UN. (2005). UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics.". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  26. ^ World Bank - Country Groups. Accessed on July 11, 2009
  27. ^ World Bank - Country Classification. Accessed on October 12, 2008, last paragraph, line 4.
  28. ^ Country classification table, World Bank. Accessed on line December 22, 2008.
  29. ^ The world in 2005: The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality-of-life index, The Economist. Accessed on line January 8, 2007.

External links

Simple English

A developed country is one which has a certain level of development. This can be measured in many ways. Sometimes people use Gross Domestic Product as a way of working out if a country is developed. Another way of measuring development is using the Human Development Index. a developed country has clean hospitals.

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