Politics in Developing Areas

Politics in developing areas are fascinating to most political science majors because they can watch the rapid changes and multitude of choices in terms of the economy, social structures, and power arrangements such areas face. Developing regions were previously called “Third World countries,” a Cold War term for nonaligned nations that did not tend toward either communism or capitalism. The term has fallen into disfavor because it carries prejudicial overtones in its suggestion that the “third” world exists beneath the first world (capitalist countries) and the second world (communist countries).

Developing nations share a few commonalities, such as a greater degree of poverty as well as increased independence upon developed nations. Many regions that can be described as developing were previously colonies of developed, economically stable countries. It is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately define what regions and countries are “developing”; while some are economically impoverished, others have developed a higher standard of living. While some are in political flux, others have created relatively stable governments. Along the extremely large continuum of developing nations, those that are closest to achieving what could be seen as a sufficient degree of development to be fully independent are currently called newly industrialized nations.

Developed areas are identified by NATO as Japan, Canada, the U.S., some countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, among others. The World Bank considers countries that are low to middle income, most of the world’s countries, as developing countries. These areas lack the higher ratio of industrialization to population found in developed countries. In many cases, the higher the population growth, the lower the standard of living in developing nations.

Although they share the label of developing nations, there are also many differences among these countries in terms of politics. As a political science major, you’ll examine developing nations with a strong central government, such as India, as well as those governments that are weaker. Among the latter are countries controlled by dictators or military regimes, those that are ruled by a single party, and those that are democracies with multiple parties. You will also examine failing or failed areas whose political and human infrastructures are unstable, which in turn leads to political instability. An unstable government results in risky investments. Other problems facing weak or failing developing nations are distribution of scarce resources for political gain; unproductive, inefficient, or dysfunctional state institutions; and top-down corruption.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014

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