Third World

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Third World

A term for developing countries. Originally used for countries that did not side explicitly with either the United States (the First World) or the Soviet Union (the Second World) during the Cold War, it has become a byword for countries with less wealth relative to others. The term is sometimes considered politically incorrect.
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developing country

or

less developed country

or

underdeveloped country

or

emerging country

or

Third World

country a country characterized by low levels of GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT and INCOME PER HEAD. See Fig. 51 . Such countries are typically dominated by a large PRIMARY SECTOR thatproduces a limited range of agricultural and mineral products and in which the majority of the POPULATION exists at or near subsistence levels, producing barely enough for their immediate needs, thus being unable to release the resources required to support a large urbanized industrial population. The term ‘developing’ indicates that, as seen by most such countries, the way to improve their economic fortunes is to diversify the industrial base of the economy by, in particular, establishing new manufacturing industries and by adopting the PRICE SYSTEM. To facilitate an increase in urban population necessary for INDUSTRIALIZATION, a nation may either IMPORT the necessary commodities from abroad with the FOREIGN EXCHANGE earned from the EXPORT of the (predominantly) primary goods, or it can attempt to improve its own agriculture. With appropriate ECONOMIC AID from industrialized countries and the ability and willingness on the part of a developing country, the transition into a NEWLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY could be made.

Certain problems do exist, however. For instance, increases in real income that are achieved need to be maintained, which means keeping population numbers in check. Illiteracy and social customs for large families tend to work against governmental efforts to increase the STANDARD OF LIVING of its citizens. Also, most of the foreign exchange earned by such countries is by exporting, mainly commodities (see INTERNATIONAL TRADE). See ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, STRUCTURE OF INDUSTRY, DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION, POPULATION TRAP, INTERNATIONAL COMMODITY AGREEMENTS, UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT, INTERNATIONAL DEBT.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005
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