‘Third world’ is a loosely defined term generally referring to poorer countries around the world. Originally used to mean nations not aligned with the Western or communist blocs; the term later came to be used for countries struggling with extreme poverty. This is how many use it today.
So, if ‘third world’ is used to refer to countries economically, rather than necessarily politically or geographically, could France be a third world country? It’s definitely not, and we’ve put together the main reasons why…
1. France Is A Rich Country
A first reason why France is not a third world country is because it is rich.
Third world countries are defined by their high rates of poverty, low-income levels, extensive unemployment, and widespread destitution. France is not a third world country because people in France a generally wealthy by global standards.
France has a per-capita income of 55,400 USD. This means the average French person is the sixth wealthiest in the world. This shows that France is not a poor nation and is far from being third world.
Although not everyone in France is wealthy, the country is able to provide its citizens with a good standard of living. Even the poorest people in France are usually able to access basic services such as education and healthcare and receive benefits from the state to meet their daily needs. This is another example of why France is not a third world country.
When people think of the third world they think of extreme poverty and destitution. France is, overall, a rich country and does not have extreme poverty like countries in Africa or Asia.
2. France Has A Developed Economy
A second reason why France is not a third world country is because it has one of the largest economies in the world.
A key characteristic of third world countries is their lack of economic prosperity, limited economic growth and lack of development. France is the seventh largest economy in the world. This makes it far from being a third world country.
France has a highly developed and advanced economy. Industrial sectors such as energy manufacturing, technology, transportation, and agricultural production make up large parts of the French economy. The economy of France is also highly diversified, meaning it does not rely on single resources or industries in order for the country to be prosperous.
Third world countries are underdeveloped and poor. They have smaller economies which are usually based around farming or resource extraction. France has a developed economy, and this is a key reason why it is not a third world nation.
3. The Country Has Advance Infrastructure
A third reason why France is not a third world country is because it has developed infrastructure.
Countries across the third world have poor infrastructure. Their roads, bridges, railways, airports, tele-communication networks and utilities are outdated, in need of refurbishment or do not allow for the effective movement of goods, people and information. The lack of quality infrastructure in third world countries in a key factor that keeps them poor.
France has some of the best infrastructure in the world. The country has an extensive road and rail network covering the entire nation. People can move cheaply and easily around France and to neighbouring countries. France has good quality electricity, water, and sewage systems across the nation as well as updated internet and phone networks. The advanced infrastructure in France is a big reason why it is not a third world country.
Infrastructure is key to a country’s success and prosperity. Over recent centuries France has built some of the best infrastructure in the world. This shows it is definitely not a third world country.
4. French People Can Access Quality Healthcare
Another reason why France is not a third world country is because of its quality healthcare system.
Third world countries are poor. Their governments are unable to collect the revenue needed to provide services to much of the population – including medical care. This means millions of people in third world countries are either unable to access quality healthcare, must pay for it at often great expense, or rely on charitable organisations for medical assistance.
France has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Across the country, French people are able to receive the medical care they need. The healthcare system in France is part of a wider social security system that ensures people in the country are able to access the services and assistance they need.
The child mortality rate in France is 4.4 deaths per thousand births. This is among the best in the world. In third world countries, such as Somalia, Chad, and South Sudan, the child mortality rate is 117, 113 and 96 per thousand births respectively. Child mortality is often seen as the base-line indicator for a country’s health system, and France’s low rate shows it is not a third world country.
5. France Has A World Class Education System
A further factor that makes it clear France is not a third world country is it’s world class education system.
As well as being unable to provide quality healthcare to their populations, third world nations lack the resources to ensure children and young people across their country are able to access education. This has an enormous negative effect on their economies and is a key reason why many third world countries fail to lift themselves out of poverty.
France has one of the best education systems in the world. Every child in France receives free education from the age of three until eighteen. The country also has many top universities that young people can go to at minimal cost whilst also receiving financial support from the state.
The quality of France’s education system, combined with the widespread access to education for children across the country, is a major reason why France is not in the third world.
6. The Country Is A Democracy
Another reason why France is not a third world country is because it is a democracy.
Generally, third world countries lack strong democratic systems. Although some third world countries could be classed as democracies, they are often prone to election irregularities, illegal transfers of power and coups. An inability to sustain democracy, combined with a lack of accountable institutions, are key factors that define a country as third world.
France has been a successful democracy for over a hundred years. The country holds regular elections and leaders are held accountable to the people. Government institutions in France are transparent and seen as legitimate. The rule of law is respected in France and human rights, as well as minority rights, are well protected.
A strong democratic tradition in France, combined with accountable government and strong election systems, are key reasons why the country is not in the third world.
7. France Is A Stable Country
A final reason why France is not a third world country is because of its stability.
Third world countries are generally unstable. They are prone to political crises and economic shocks. They are also more susceptible to natural disasters, conflicts, and humanitarian crises. External interference by other countries is also more common in third world nations.
France is a stable country. Although demonstrations, industrial disputes and political disagreements are frequent, these do not affect the general working of the country or result in extensive destruction or loss of life. As a country, France is able to resolve its internal issues through dialogue. France is not at risk of falling into civil conflict or being invaded by its neighbours. France is also not affected by large scale humanitarian crises.
As a country, France is highly stable and unlikely to collapse as a state. It is able to meet the challenges it faces and provide a generally safe and predictable environment for people to live and do business. The stability of France is an important reason why it is not a third world country.
Want To Learn More?
If you want to learn more about the third world, where the concept came from and what it means for a country to be described at ‘third world’, we recommend the book The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World by Vijay Prashad. It’s fascinating read exploring how the term ‘third world’ moved from being a utopian concept to a derogatory phrase for poorer countries. We’ve linked to the paperback on Amazon.com.
If it’s France you are interested in, including its place in the modern world and its recent history, check out Jonathan Fenby’s The History of Modern France. It’s an easy read taking you through the key events that made France the rich and developed country that it is today. The link is to the book on Amazon.com.
For those interested in France and the third world, we highly recommend the book A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa by Alice L. Conklin. It explores France’s empire in Africa and how French colonialism was a key factor in creating poorer and less industrialised nations – nations that would later be part of the third world. We’ve linked to it on Amazon.com.