Difference between Developed and Underdeveloped Countries

A developed country is one that has high levels of quality of life and a large degree of industrial and socioeconomic development. It has a high per capita income and a high human development index.

An underdeveloped country is one that has a low level of quality of life compared to other countries. It depends on the agricultural sector, with little industrial development and presents socio-economic problems. In addition, it has a low per capita income, as well as a low human development index.

Difference between Developed and Underdeveloped Countries

Countries with the lowest per capita income and human development index are also known as least developed countries. Anyhow, before seeing what is the main difference between developed and underdeveloped countries, let’s see what developed and underdeveloped countries.

What is a Developed Country?

In general terms, a developed country is considered to be anyone with high levels of quality of life, with extensive industrial and socioeconomic development. They are countries with high per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and high gross national product (GNP), as well as high human development index.

The industrial sector, trade and economic advances are important economic factors in these countries. This allows for an active labor market. In addition, a large part of the population has access to higher education and there is a high rate of schooling.

Political and social stability are key elements within these countries. There are no internal armed conflicts, and they present a better distribution of wealth and greater social equality.

The health system is strong, and social security is available to the majority of the population. The infant mortality rate is minimal and life expectancy is longer than in other less developed countries.

Development indicators of Underdeveloped Countries

For the World Bank, countries with an annual per capita gross national product greater than USD 12,056 are considered high-income economies. In 2018, the total number of countries above this figure was 81.

Regarding the human development index, the United Nations Development Program considers that countries that reach a grade of 0.80, have a human development index classified as “very high”. In 2018, 58 countries were estimated to reach this range.

Characteristics of Developed Countries

  • Highly developed industrial and service sector
  • High levels of quality of life
  • Political stability
  • Strong health and social security system
  • High per capita gross domestic product and per capita gross national product
  • High human development index
  • High level of employment
  • Low levels of socioeconomic inequality
  • Low infant mortality rate and long life expectancy
  • High levels of schooling

What is an Underdeveloped Country?

An underdeveloped country, or a developing country, is known as one that has a per capita gross domestic product, a per capita gross national product and a low human development index in relation to other more developed countries.

The underdevelopment of these countries does not simply refer to their being in a pre-development stage; that a country is underdeveloped means that, at that particular moment, that country has a situation that does not allow it to achieve better quality of life and economic standards.

Main Problems in Underdeveloped Countries

These countries present a gap in the distribution of wealth greater than that of developed countries. There is a greater social division when it comes to access to resources.

Political instability, difficult access to employment, and weak industrial infrastructure cause problems of poverty, internal marginalization, and constant migration dynamics.

Infant mortality is higher than in developed countries, while life expectancy is shorter, since the health system is not as strong.

A large part of the adult population does not have higher education and there is a high level of school dropout in secondary education.

At an economic and commercial level, these countries are dependent on a poorly industrialized primary sector. Most of the manufactured products come from abroad.

Development indicators of Underdeveloped Countries

For the World Bank, a country is underdeveloped or developing if it has a per capita gross domestic product between USD 996 and USD 12,055. In total there are 103 countries that fall within this range.

Regarding the human development index, the United Nations Development Program considers that countries that achieve a grade between 0.50 and 0.79 have a “medium” or “high” human development index. In 2018, 92 countries were estimated to be within this range.

Characteristics of Underdeveloped Countries

  • Strong dependence on the agricultural sector and little industrial development
  • Coexistence of a market and subsistence economy
  • Low levels of quality of life
  • Presence of a certain degree of political instability
  • Low per capita gross domestic product and low gross national product
  • Low human development index
  • High birth rate and population density