According to Wikipedia,

A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC)) is a sovereign state that has a high quality of life, developed economy, and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialized nations.

There are only a handful of nations in the world that are Developed. Most of the countries are in Europe, or the countries where the majority of the population are the direct descendants of white Europeans.

the ratio of developed countries in Asia is 5:48. On the other hand, the ratio of developed countries in Europe is much higher 26:44.

If we consider four Asian Tigers + Japan as outliers, there are almost no countries left outside the European descent that reached developed status.

What is the core (low level) reason behind this?

  • How do you define "developed status" and "European descent"? – Number File Jun 9 at 15:16
  • @NumberFile, developed country is already defined. – user366312 Jun 9 at 15:20
  • @NumberFile, European descent means the majority population is direct descendants of white Europeans. – user366312 Jun 9 at 15:21
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    Downvoted because you specifically exclude any non-European countries, such as Japan, that have become developed, thereby creating an unanswerable question. You might also want to consider countries within that "white European descent" that aren't all that well developed, e.g. Cuba as an extreme, but also South American countries such as Argentina & Chile. – jamesqf Jun 9 at 16:15
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    Other than because they disprove the premise, why are we excluding those four nations? – PoloHoleSet Jun 9 at 16:59

There are a number of factors that give rise to this including definition bias, and the colonial history of the world.

  1. The terms "developed" and "development" arise from cultural values. This is called out by the UN Statistics Division in the small text below this (now deprecated) mapping tool:

There is no established convention for the designation of “developed” and “developing” countries or areas in the United Nations system.

To a certain extent, the term "developed" can be read to mean, "has followed an economic trajectory similar to European nations and their spin-offs." Forms of development that differ from that trajectory are not acknowledged by the definition, and so are excluded from consideration.

If we assume that this trajectory is the natural course of human social behavior, then we inquire why it has not happened in, essentially, non-white nations, leading us to:

  1. South America and Africa in particular, but also most other places on the globe, have been subject to early intervention by European powers which disrupted their 'natural' evolution. Those interventions caused significant loss of life, imposed extractive colonial policies, and imperial powers favored policies which led to the fracturing of communities into mutually opposed factions which gave rise to the civil strife we see in many of these regions, today.

Depending upon which scholars you favor, those extractive practices continue today, but in less explicit terms.

The cases of the United States, Canada, and Australia are particularly instructive here as in those cases, the aboriginal populations of those areas were exterminated, displaced, or otherwise removed from the land and replaced with settlers of European origins.

Arguments that there must be some other factor in play stray dangerously close to "African communities just aren't interested in technology" which is not only ahistorical and racist in the extreme, but also assumes that encounters with industrial technology happen in a vacuum. The violent nature of much of the interactions between European imperial powers and the territories they colonized undoubtedly played a major role in how the cultures on the receiving end of the violence viewed the means and paths that arguably led to them.


Yes, if you decide to exclude nations that disprove your hypothesis, for no particular reason, then your hypothesis holds up.

The question is why you would cherry pick your data sample in such a way.


Let's consider the fact that the developed nations attained their 'developed' status over (perhaps) a two to three hundred year period — from somewhere in the middle of the Colonial era through the Industrial era and beyond — in which they quite brutally coerced labor and expropriated resources form foreign people, immigrants, and their own lower classes. Much of the wealth of developed Western nations comes at the expense of people who were driven into poverty, if not explicitly driven out of their lands or killed to protect European access to their natural resources.

Most of the less developed nations in the world arose out of the collapse of the Colonial system in the first half of the 20th century. Excepting places like the US, Australia, and South Africa (where Europeans settled to created nations), Colonials did not develop infrastructure beyond what was necessary for resource extraction and military control, and they did not do much to secure or improve the quality of life of natives. These newly cerated foreign nations, thus, have had to start building their economy from scratch. Further, these nations did not have the luxury of creating Colonial systems of their own — extracting resources, labor, and wealth from other even less developed areas — so they did not get the economic kickstart that Europeans enjoyed in the 18th and 19th centuries. And finally, these 'new' nations are effectively in competition with these established, wealthy nations for trade, investment money, and other economic necessities: effectively pitted against the wealth that was taken from them by Europeans. As such, these nations are often forced to fall back on providing resources and cheap labor to Western interests, much as they did during the Colonial era.

In the best of cases, we might expect an underdeveloped nation to create a modern political and economic structure comparable to Western developed nations in a hundred years or so: establishing infrastructure; building an educational system that can train high-skill workers and then training such workers; attracting investors or companies which want something more than cheap, unskilled labor; these things take generations. But most underdeveloped nations do not have the best of cases.

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