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Out of the 195 countries in the world, only 37 are considered to be fully developed. This means the vast majority of people, in fact over 80%, live in developed countries. But why, if most people don’t even live in developed nations, do they get so much criticism? It quite common to hear people say that rich countries have a negative impact globally, and especially on poorer nations. So, what’s going on? Why are developing countries considered bad?
Developed Countries Use Their Influence Over Other Nations
A first reason why developed countries are bad is because they use their influence over other nations.
The developed nations of the world are by far the most powerful. Their economic wealth means they have an abundance of resources at their disposal. However, almost all developed nations dedicate a portion of their resources, be those finances, business, cultural, or military, to influence other countries. This is one definite negative point about richer nations.
Less developed countries are inherently weaker. They have less resources at their disposal and are more prone to crises and conflicts. As a result, they are often unable to push back against developed countries when richer nations wield their influence.
Developed nations use their influence around the globe to forward their strategic, economic and political interests. This is often to the determent of poorer nations. It’s also a key reason why developed countries can be bad.
Developed Nations Often Intervene In Weaker Countries
A second reason why developed countries are bad is because they often intervene in other nations affairs.
As well as using their influence over poorer nations in ways that can forward their interests, developed countries also intervene directly in the affairs of developing nations. The most egregious example of this has been military interventions. Although often under the pretence of providing humanitarian protection or ending a conflict, richer countries have been known to use their military force to coerce developing nations.
Although military interventions by developed nations are perhaps the most obvious way they interfere in developing countries, actually richer nations also use economic, trade and political leverage to coerce poorer countries to act in their interests. Again, this can often go against the developing countries own interests and is another example of what’s bad about developed nations.
They Control World Finance And Trade
A third reason why developed countries are bad is because they control global finance, commerce and trade.
The developed countries of the world make up over 40% of global GDP, despite only having 17% of the world’s population. Their enormous wealth, especially compared to poorer nations, means they exert significant influence over global trade and commerce. The currencies and financial institutions of many developed nations also form the backbone of the global financial system – this further adds to their control over developing countries.
Developed nations are able to use their trade, business policies and regulations to create a global economic order that is in their favour. Their direct control over the financial systems that almost all nations in the world use means they can directly create economic conditions that forward their interests, even if these are to the determent of poorer nations.
The domination rich countries have over the global financial order, and how they use this dominance, is an often-cited reason why they are bad.
Developed Countries Dominate Global Institutions
Another negative point about developed nations is that they dominate global institutions.
The current global order has a number of key institutions that influence, regulate and, in some cases, control world affairs. These include bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank, and the International Monterey Fund (IMF), but it also includes organisations such as NATO, the European Union, the World Economic Forum and the World Trade Organization. Institutions such as these play a vital role in how economics, politics and events play-out around the world.
Almost all the major global institutions are dominated by developed nations. In some cases, rich countries have direct control over key parts of these organisations, such as on the UN Security Council. In others, they provide the majority of the funding, giving them significant influence, such as with the World Health Organisation and World Food Programme. In others, they often have their citizens working in top positions, again providing significant influence.
The fact that developed countries dominate key global institutions means these organizations often work, if only partly, to benefit richer nations. It also means they rarely act to the benefit of poorer countries, especially if any action would negatively impact richer countries. All of this is a big reason why developed countries are bad.
International Development Online Courses
If you want to know more about international development, we highly recommend the online short course Sustainable Development in the 21st Century by Yonsei University. Delivered by former UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, the course is a great introduction to the issues developing countries face. The link is to the course’s page.
We also think the online course Management of International Development: Towards Agenda 2030 is great. It looks at the current international development model as well as the trends that will be key to global development in the near future. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
If you are interested in the practical methods used on international development programmes, we recommend the online course How To Design & Fund International Development NGO Projects. The course teaches students the tools needed to establish and run impactful development projects. Click the link to visit the course’s page for more information.
They Prevent Poorer Countries Accessing Technology
One negative point about developed countries is how they restrict poorer nations access to new technologies.
Almost all the major technological advancements come out of developed nations. Rich countries have the resources to dedicate to research and innovation. They also have major educational institutions and businesses that can focus on creating new technologies. However, there are a range of ways that developed nations prevent these technologies from being adopted by poorer countries.
Intellectual property rights are one of the main methods developed countries use to restrict access to their technology. Although some would argue these protections prevent intellectual property theft and help to incentivize businesses to invest in new technologies, they also mean that poorer countries often cannot develop these technologies themselves, but must remain reliant on purchasing them, usually at a high cost, from developed nations.
Trade regulations, such as export licences, are another way that developed nations control which businesses or countries can access new technology.
The fact that developed nations often prevent poorer countries from being able to develop their own technologies is a major reason why they are bad.
The Culture Of Developed Nations Is Consumed Globally
One reason that many people cite for why developed countries are bad is their global cultural dominance.
The culture of rich countries is consumed all around the world. Think popular music, film, art, celebrities, books, and television. The culture that is put out by developed nations is followed in almost every corner of the globe. Although this isn’t inherently a bad thing, often it displaces the traditional culture in many places. Many people say this is one of the negative aspects of developed countries.
Like the way rich nations culture dominates globally, so does its languages. Major world dialects, such as English, French and Spanish, are spoken all over the world. Partly this is a legacy of colonialism, but nowadays it is also because in almost every country people see learning one of these languages as a necessity to succeed.
The fact that the language and culture of developed nations is consumed globally, often displacing native culture and dialects, is one point against richer countries.
They Think All Countries Want To Be Like Them
A final bad point about developed countries is that, really, they all think every country wants to be like them.
It’s true that almost every country desires to become developed and to provide a high standard of living for their citizens. However, the issue rich countries have is that they assume that all countries want to follow their model towards development. Developed nations became wealthy by adopting free market capitalist principles, whilst generally shrinking the role of the state and adopting individualist and consumerist cultures. Not every country wants to develop following this path, and the fact that rich countries keep pushing this model is one reason why they’re bad.
Although there are some nations happy to follow the development model pursued by rich countries so far, many wish to retain elements of their culture, ways of working or business practices. The fact that developed nations assume that all countries are willing to adopt all aspects of their development model often creates resentment in the developing world. This is an often cited negative against developed countries.