What is Economic Underdevelopment

Category: Economics

The word economic underdevelopment is formed by applying the prefix sub, whose meaning is “below”, to the word development, to refer to what is below development.

In the economic sphere, there is talk of development, alluding to countries with certain social welfare obtained thanks to their productive capacity. In this sense, it can be said that there are developed and underdeveloped countries.

This is a concept used to mention the situation of a country that does not have the appropriate level of socioeconomic development, that is, it is used to indicate that the development of a given country is below a certain level.

What is economic underdevelopment?

It is the situation of a region or country or region, when its capacity to produce social welfare or wealth, does not reach certain levels considered optimal, being in a backward state when making a comparison with the state of more prosperous countries.

It is important to point out that there is no specific criterion to classify a country as underdeveloped, in general it is linked to precarious economies, with very low productive capacity, deficiency of public services and a high poverty rate.

It can be determined that an underdeveloped country is one in which its inhabitants have difficulty and inability to enjoy services and elements that are basic to have a quality of life, such as health services, drinking water, housing, electricity, education, decent employment and sometimes until feeding.

In general, underdevelopment is seen as a rating of the countries that refers to the lack of productive mechanisms, goods and services, which is why it is used as a synonym for poverty, since it also implies greater deficiencies in material wealth, such as financial independence, quality of life and social equality.

Characteristics of underdevelopment

Economic delay

  • Countries that have not reached a maximum or adequate productive level.
  • Activities such as agriculture, livestock, fishing, mining and other activities belonging to the primary sector predominate.
  • Unfavorable foreign trade system, an exchange is carried out with other countries from positions of dependency or inferiority.
  • Underuse of the country’s resources, which contributes to the ineffectiveness of the production system.
  • Disunity of the productive system, apart from the concentration of the primary sector and there is a total disconnection between it and the other productive sectors

Political delay

  • Lack of strong democratic institutions. Existence of weak democracies, due to institutional lack, anarchy, corruption, impunity and social failures of organized coexistence
  • Existence of corrupt regimes.
  • Excessive military dependence on other countries, considered foreign powers.

Social delay

  • Alarming poverty rate.
  • High unemployment and underemployment rate.
  • Little access of the general population to education.
  • Difficulty in enjoying basic services, health and food.
  • Poor distribution of wealth among the inhabitants, there being a very rich part of the population and another with extreme poverty.

Causes of economic underdevelopment

In trying to find the causes of underdevelopment there have been many theses, most have been unsatisfactory in trying to explain the problem.

For some time religious and racial criteria were discussed as the cause of underdevelopment, justifying racist and xenophobic ideologies, which today are not yet overcome. However, examples of racially distinct and successful nations are seen in Caucasian Europe, to deny this reasoning.

Others pointed to the climate, areas with a harsh climate would have been denied the conditions to form productive agriculture or exploit marketable resources.

On the other hand, historical criteria speaks of colonialism (European and North American) that kept weaker nations in a state of backwardness, countries that after achieving their independence began to compete with great inequality with their former oppressors, who strengthened themselves with wealth they were stripped years ago.

In short, various forms of collective attitude towards progress that caused some countries to remain underdeveloped.

Why is a country underdeveloped?

It is not impossible for a country to achieve development, for this it is necessary to overcome some goals, make changes and a certain amount of hard work. In general, an underdeveloped country is like this because:

  • It works ineffectively.
  • It mismanages its resources.
  • The state uses taxes very little to make improvements.
  • There is a lot of administrative disorder
  • Poor distribution of resources.

Consequences of underdevelopment

The consequences can be measured according to the deficiencies generally perceived by the population, at the level of life expectancy, access to basic services, health, education, food, personal freedom, among others.

These consequences, in addition to being difficult to control, are quite clear, they tend to represent the deficiency scheme that originally produced them, such as:

  • Poverty, misery, famine.
  • Dependence on foreign countries.
  • Socio-economic inequality.
  • Political instability,
  • Democratic inconsistency.
  • High rates of violence.

Possible solutions to economic underdevelopment

There are multiple theories regarding overcoming underdevelopment, some emphasize the historical reparation of developed nations that were oppressors of underdeveloped nations, other theories place the responsibility on the country itself and are based on overcoming cultural schemes that in a certain way they symbolize an obstacle to its growth.

It also deals with the regional unification of underdeveloped countries and the exchange with large economies and their interventionist aspirations. What has motivated political integration initiatives and common markets with less restrictions and taxes.

However, the reality is that the solution lies in leaving aside the thought that awaits solutions from heaven, cultures that have loaded their problems on others and intend their solutions to be provided by others. It is necessary to increase the capacity to generate wealth, therefore, to produce goods and services that allow a better quality of life for the population.

Finally, as a reference, it is worth mentioning the human development index measured by the UN, which includes, among other indicators, GDP, life expectancy, literacy. Indicating as underdeveloped countries with less development than most nations to Niger, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso.

On the other hand, the UN report refers to four categories within the aforementioned human development:

  • Low human development: Where there are 46 countries considered underdeveloped countries, for example, Kenya, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Chad, Solomon Islands, etc.
  • Generally average human development: They include Algeria, the Dominican Republic, Jordan, etc.
  • High human development is classified: Countries such as Uruguay, Bulgaria, etc.
  • Very high human development: United States, Spain, Germany, Norway, etc.