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Less than one fifth of the countries in the world are classified as developed. This means only a small proportion of nations have been able to crack the puzzle of development and become wealthy. All of the other countries in the world have so far been unable to achieve prosperity. This leads to an obvious question… why are developed countries actually developed? Well, let us explain…
Developed Countries Have Large Economies
A first reason why developed countries are developed is because they have large economies.
For a country to become developed, it must generate wealth. A strong economy not only lifts peoples living standards, it also provides more revenue for the state through increased taxation. Having a large economy also helps a country to produce competitive businesses – in-turn not only providing good jobs, but also allowing the nation to compete for global trade and commerce.
Having a large economy is vital to a country developing. Economic growth allows for innovation and also attracts talent from around the world. Countries that have growing economies are able to leverage their increases in wealth to fund other key elements of development, such as education, healthcare, defence and infrastructure.
Having an efficient and dynamic economy is key to why developed countries have developed.
They Have Accountable Political Systems
A second reason why developed countries have developed is because they have accountable political systems.
A country’s political system dictates how it is governed. It is not only how political leaders are selected, but also the protocols used for drafting laws and the checks and balances that divide power among different institutions of state. Accountability is key to a good political system and almost all developed countries have this. It’s seen as a key reason why they were able to develop.
The most obvious example of accountability within a political system is free and fair elections. These allow the population to express their political will through participation. However, almost all developed countries have other mechanisms within their political systems that build-in accountability. These can include protocols for removing corrupt or dishonest politicians, as well as bodies that independently scrutinize legislation.
The fact that accountability is built into the political system of developed nations has meant that their politicians are able to adapt to the populations wishes. This is one factor that has contributed to their development.
Developed Countries Have Good Governance
A third reason why developed countries are developed is because they have good governance.
How a country is governed is key to its success. Governance is more than just the decisions political leaders take. It is the systems and mechanisms that ensure a country remains well governed. This includes at a national level, but also for local and regional governments. The ingrained good governance practices are key reasons why developed countries have become, and remain, developed.
An important outcome of good governance in developed nations is the low levels of corruption. When people at all levels of power become corrupt it can significantly hold back a country’s development. Developed nations enjoy limited corruption. This is partly due to good governance. It is also a major reason why they have been able to become developed.
Developed Countries Have Strong Geography
Another reason why developed countries have been able to develop is because of their geography.
A country’s geographical features play a major role in its development. Mountains, rivers, jungles and forests create natural barriers that make a nation easier to defend. Flat arable land allows for the production of food that can support a population. Navigable rivers and access to the sea helps with transport and trade. Many developed countries have favourable geography and this has helped them immensely.
Not every developed country has perfect geography, but almost all have at least some geographical features that assisted them in their development.
As countries become more developed, they are also able to overcome weaker geography and as a result geography becomes less of a hindrance to further development.
International Development Online Courses
If you want to know more about developed countries, 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.
Developed Countries Invested In Infrastructure
One reason why developed countries are developed is because they have invested in infrastructure.
Having adequate infrastructure is vital for a nation to move people and goods internally and internationally. Developed countries have for decades, or even centuries, invested heavily in roads, railways, airports, utilities and tele-communication networks. Infrastructure is also key to economic growth, and so this investment has directly contributed to developed nations being able to become developed.
Investment in infrastructure compounds over time. As developed nations have been able to build highly quality infrastructure, the economic growth this has produced has increased government revenue – in-turn increasing the amount developed nations can spend, including on more advanced infrastructure. This one reason why developed nations have been able to build such quality infrastructure.
Infrastructure is perhaps one of the more important factors in why developed nations are developed.
They Have Well-Funded Education And Healthcare Systems
A further reason why developed countries have achieved high levels of development is because they have good quality education and healthcare systems.
For a country to become developed, it needs an educated population. People need to be highly educated in order to work jobs that have significant value add, this includes in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, computing and the sciences. Children and young people need ready access to high quality schools in order to learn the skills needed for a country to develop. Across the developed world this has been achieved, and it has helped these countries to become prosperous.
Another factor key in why developed countries are developed is healthcare. For a nation to economically thrive, people need access to quality medical assistance. In countries without good healthcare systems, economically productive people are lost due to ill health or having to care for sick family members. Developed countries generally have the best healthcare systems in the world, and this has actually helped them become developed.
Developed Countries Have Strong Defenses
A final reason why developed countries are developed is because they have strong defenses.
As the wealthiest countries in the world, developed nations are able to spend significant sums of defense. This means they have among the most advanced militaries in the world. They can afford quality training, and equipment for their armed forces. They can also use their industrial bases to develop new military technologies. Combined, these factors allow developed countries to have strong defenses.
Defense is key to a nation developing. Countries need to be able to protect their borders, deter aggression, limit foreign interference and prevent their resources from being seized by foreign powers. Being able to fund strong militaries is vital for a country to become developed. As rich nations are able to provide significant funds to their militaries, it actually plays a key role in helping them further develop.