What Pros And Cons Do Developing Countries Have? We Explain

There are only 37 fully developed nations in the world. This means that out of the 195 nations globally, the vast majority are developing countries. Generally, people view developing nations as poor and inferior, especially compared to the select few richer ones. Although it is true developing countries have a range of disadvantages, they actually also have some major advantages.

Below is a breakdown of some of the major pros and cons developing countries face.

Developing Country AdvantagesDeveloping Country Disadvantages
Young populationsWidespread poverty
Growing economiesRapid urbanisation
Increased global influenceLower school attendance
Growing populationsShorter life expectancy
Increasing industrialisationPoor infrastructure
Utilisation of new technologiesReduced resilience to crises

…but that’s just an overview. Now let’s take a look at each these points and get a better understanding of some of the pros and cons of developing countries.

Young Populations

A first advantage that developing countries have is that they have young populations.

Across the developing world, the average age is significantly lower than in richer developed countries. Some developing nations, such as Yemen, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, have average ages below 20 years old. Others, such as Uganda, Angola and Niger, have populations that average below 16 years of age.

Having a younger population brings a range of benefits to developing countries. They have more people to be economically productive. This means there are more people to take jobs, start businesses and create valuable networks. Having more working age people also means governments can collect more revenue through taxation, and the number of people reliant on social programmes is lower compared to the number of people working.

Countries with younger populations can take advantage of their dynamism to boost their economies. Many developing countries are doing this and it’s why having more young people is a major benefit to them.

Growing Economies

A second advantage that developing countries have is many of their economies are growing fast.

Many developing countries have seen impressive economic growth in recent years. For example, in 2021, Guyana’s economy grew by over 19%, Panama’s by over 15% and Moldova’s by over 13%. This is far above richer countries. For comparison, the same year Japan’s economy only grew by 1.6%.

The rapid economic growth, especially compared to more developed nations, is a major benefit for developing countries. Economic growth not only means people becoming richer, it also means more and better jobs, new businesses, increased investment and better public services. Although developing countries are often far behind richer nations in these areas, the expansion in their economies still brings many advantages.

Th fact that the majority of the global economic growth in the last decade has been in the poorer parts of the world is a major benefit for developing countries.

Increased Global Influence

A third advantage developing countries are having is that their global influence is growing.

Half a century ago, the rich nations of the world dominated global affairs. This was firstly done through colonial empires, and once these disbanded, through leading international organisations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Developed countries also controlled global finance, and often indebted poorer countries through loans.

In recent decades, developing countries have begun to increase their influence in many aspects of world affairs. This has been a major advantage to them. Large developing economies such as China, India and Brazil and now at the forefront of global decisions. There is also better coordination between developing nations – including groups such as the BRICS, that work to further increase the influence of emerging economies.

As the influence of developing countries increases so will the advantages these nations can take of a changing world.

Growing Populations

Another advantage that developing countries have is that their populations are growing.

Across the developing world, many countries are have seen rapid population growth. For example, in 2021, Syria and South Sudan both saw their populations grow by more than 5%. Countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Benin all saw over 3% growth. This is huge compared to many richer countries where populations are hardly growing, or in fact are shrinking.

Having a growing population provides many benefits for developing countries. Population growth is often corelated with economic growth, meaning many developing nations will see their economies expand in the coming decades. This is because these nations will have more people to be economically productive, meaning more goods can be produced and services ran. It also means there are more people to provide consumption.

As developing countries see their populations expand, they will not only see their economies grow, but also their global influence. This is another reason why population growth can be a huge advantage for developing countries.

Increasing Industrialization

One big advantage that developing countries have is that they are seeing increasing industrialisation.

Several decades ago, almost all developing countries had economies almost entirely based on agriculture and resource extraction. However, over recent decades, many developing countries, including China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, have rapidly industrialised. This has been a huge advantage to them.

Industrialization helps a country become wealthy at is means it economy is based on manufacturing, processing and building more advanced products and services using more technological means. The huge benefit developing countries are seeing from industrialization is not just the economic outcomes, but also that fact that because they are industrialized later than developed nations, they can learn lessons and belter adapt their industrialization.

Although rapid industrialization does bring its challenges for developing countries, if handled correctly, it can also be a huge advantage.

Utilization of New Technologies

A final advantage that developing countries have is their utilization of new technologies.

In the 21st century, technology is rapidly advancing. There have been enormous strides in almost every sector, from computing to science, from agriculture to infrastructure development. Many developing countries have been able to take advantage of these technological developments and as a result have seen significant economic gains. The rapid adoption of new technology across the developing world is a massive benefit these countries are seeing.

As well as being able to adopt new technologies and build economies around them, many developing countries have also become hubs for designing, creating, and manufacturing technologies – think China and India. With their young and educated workforces, countries such as these are beginning to dominate the global technology sector and this is a major advantage for developing countries.

Widespread Poverty

A first disadvantage that developing countries have is that they are plagued by widespread poverty.

One factor that defines developing countries is that they are unable to provide a high standard of living for the majority of their population. Even in middle income countries such as China and India, there are still large numbers of people living below the poverty line. In very poor developing countries, such as Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan, over 70% of the population live in poverty.

Extensive poverty is perhaps the biggest disadvantage developing countries have. People living in poverty are unable to fulfil their potential. They are also prone to worse health outcomes and often lack education. People living in poverty struggle to access basic services and are at risk of exploitation and abuse.

The widespread poverty across the developing world is definitely one of the major problems developing countries face.

Rapid Urbanization

A second disadvantage that developing countries face is rapid urbanisation.

As we listed as a pro, many developing countries have seen rapid industrialisation in recent decades. However, as better jobs have been created in cities – where manufacturing hubs are based, this has meant large numbers of people have moved off agricultural jobs into urban areas. This has resulted in rapid urbanisation across the developing world.

Rapid urbanization can pose a range of issues for developing countries. If huge numbers of people move into cities over a short period of time, housing, infrastructure, utilities, schools and healthcare facilities cannot cope. Many developing countries also lack the resources needed to improve these facilities, meaning many urban areas in the developing world provide poor living conditions.

Many developing countries have so far been unable to improve city living conditions following the rapid urbanization in recent decades. This has meant urbanization has in some ways been a disadvantage for developing nations.

Lower School Attendance

A third disadvantage that developing countries have is that many children do not go to school.

Globally, there are 244 million children who do not receive an education. Almost all of these live in developing countries. In some of the poorest countries in the developing world, such as Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, over 40% of children do not go to school. The reason for poor school attendance in many developing countries is either because the state does not have the funds to run schools across the country, or because parents in low-income households cannot afford the school fees.

Having large numbers of children who miss out on an education is incredibly damaging for developing countries. Not only does it mean these children are unable to achieve their full potential, but it also does massive economic, political and cultural damage to many developing countries.

The fact that so many children across the developing world do not go to school is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing developing nations.

Shorter Life Expectancy

Another disadvantage that developing countries have is that their populations have lower life expectancies.

People live longer in richer nations that poorer ones. For comparison, the life expectancy in France is 83 years and in Norway it’s 82 years, when in Pakistan it’s 67 and in Tanzania it’s 66 years. In the poorest nations the world, such as Chad, people live on average only to 55 years old.

There are many reasons why people in developing countries live shorter lives than those in the developed world. These can include limited and often low-quality healthcare, dietary conditions, bad quality housing, poor living conditions and harmful working practices. Many developing countries also have high child mortality rates – meaning many more children die before the age of five than in the richer countries.

It is not only a tragedy that people in poorer countries have lower life expectancies, it also has an economic cost for developing nations. This is why it is such as disadvantage for them.

Poor Infrastructure

One major disadvantage that developing countries have is their poor-quality infrastructure.

Infrastructure is key to a nation’s success. In order for people, goods, and information to move into, and around, a country, good quality road, railways, airports, utilities and tele-communication networks are vital. An issue almost all developing countries face is that their infrastructure is either outdated, in poor condition or is lacking in some areas.

The lack of quality infrastructure across the developing world means doing business is more difficult. It slows down movements and increases costs. It also makes the lives of people in developing countries more difficult, as well as puts off international investors from the country.

The state of infrastructure in most developing countries is probably one of their major disadvantages, especially compared to the high-quality infrastructure seen in richer nations.

Reduced Resilience To Crises

A final disadvantage that developing countries have it their limited resilience when hit by crises.

Economic and political crises are common around the word. However, developing countries are less able to withstand these crises. Their economic and political institutions are weaker and so succumb more easily to shocks.

Developing countries are more likely to be faced with natural disasters. They often lack the financial and material resources needed to fully prepare for these disasters, and to help the communities affected to recover.

The majority of conflicts in the world are fought in developing countries which can succumb more easily to armed violence. They are also more likely to face foreign interference that can exacerbate conflicts.

Across economic and political crises, natural disasters and conflicts, developing nations have less resilience and are less able to recover. Many must rely on international assistance in order to help people in need. This lack of resilience and capacity to whether crises is a major disadvantage for developing countries.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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