Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Question of Mine

Is there such a thing as a Second World country?
Washington, D.C.
Dear Michelle:
Third World countries (now known as "developing nations") are countries with a low "Human Development Index." First World countries (like the United States, Japan, and Germany) score much higher on the HDI. A nation's HDI is determined by its literacy rate, poverty rate, life expectancy, etc.

There is indeed a Second World, though the expression isn't exactly parallel to the other terms, and these days, few mention it. According to Nations Online, the phrase refers to "former communist-socialist, industrial states, the territory and sphere of influence of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic." For example, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, and of course, the big bear -- Mother Russia. China is also considered a Second World nation.

Thanks to the fall of the Soviet Union, the term "Second World" has become rather meaningless. Nowadays, a country's economic strength (not its government) determines how it's classified. Countries in Europe and North America as well as Australia are primarily First World, while Africa and South America are mostly made up of developing nations. Hopefully with economic aid and other support, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will grow smaller, and the need for words to distinguish them will disappear.


I've always wondered what a second world country would be. I actually had guessed about the same thing as what they stated, except for the former soviet thing. I figured that former communist countries were second world because of their economy, not their government. But I was spot on for guessing that Romania was a second world country. I'm guessing that the terms "second world" and "third world" have been eliminated in order to be more politically correct. After all, "second world" would make it seem that the country in question is 'second class'. But we'd probably have to ask our resident expert, Bob. Bob, are you there?

1 comment:

mightybob said...

Sure am, BigRed. The terms 'first', 'second', and 'third world' are no longer in style in the academic/PC world. Recently (as the article indicates) 'developed' and 'developing' have become widely-accepted terms. Some people still use the slightly-less-recent term 'under-developed' to describe countries, but as some find the term to be demeaning, it is also starting to fade out. Thanks for having me on the show, Mr. Hammer. This is Bob signing off and wishing all my fans out there a good day.