Common characteristics of economically less developed countries
using examples, that economically less developed countries share
certain common characteristics (noting that it is dangerous to
generalize as there are
many exceptions in each case), including
- low levels of GDP per capita,
- high levels of poverty,
- relatively large agricultural sectors,
- large urban informal sectors and
- high birth rates.
You must be careful to recognise the considerable diversity between
less developed countries in terms of their economies and the economic
problems they face (Contrast Asia, Africa and Latin America).
Nevertheless, there are some common features that appear to be shared by many LDCs
- Low GDP per capita
- High levels of poverty
- Dependence of agriculture and the export of primary products
- Higher rates of population growth
- Low levels of productivity
- High levels of unemployment and underemployment
Pause for thought
It is very easy to lump all less develop countries together and
assume that they all exhibit the same characteristics. For example, how
many times do you hear people refer to Africa as a country rather a
continent made up of over 50 different countries?
Similarly it is often assumed that the way of life of inhabitants of these countries also tends to conform to certain stereotypical ideas. What preconceived ideas do we have about the way people in less developed countries live?
Ask your friends about what they think the similarities and differences might be for young people living in less developed countries. When you have put together a list of similarities and differences you might then try to find some evidence to support or reject such assertions.
Many of these common characteristics contribute to what is known as the vicious cycle of poverty or the poverty cycle. Before we look at the cycle in more depth it may be worthwhile pausing to consider what we mean by poverty.
When we talk of poverty we usually distinguish between absolute poverty and relative poverty.
Absolute poverty refers to being unable to afford basic human needs, such as clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live in absolute poverty today.
Relative poverty refers to the lacking a usual or socially acceptable level of resources or income as compared with others within a society or country. What is considered 'acceptable' inevitably various from country to country and is significantly higher in developed countries than in developing countries.
The common international poverty line has in the past been roughly $1 a day. However in 2008, the World Bank revised this figure to $1.25 at 2005 purchasing-power parity (PPP).