A developed country
(or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country
)) is a sovereign state
that has a high quality of life
, developed economy
and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialized nations. Most commonly, the criteria for evaluating the degree of economic development are gross domestic product
(GDP), gross national product
(GNP), the per capita income
, level of industrialization, amount of widespread infrastructure and general standard of living.
Which criteria are to be used and which countries can be classified as being developed are subjects of debate.
Definition and criteria
Economic criteria have tended to dominate discussions. One such criterion is income per capita; countries with high gross domestic product
(GDP) per capita would thus be described as developed countries. Another economic criterion is industrialisation
; countries in which the tertiary
and quaternary sectors of industry
dominate would thus be described as developed. More recently another measure, the Human Development Index
(HDI), which combines an economic measure, national income, with other measures, indices for life expectancy and education has become prominent. This criterion would define developed countries as those with a very high (HDI) rating. The index, however, does not take into account several factors, such as the net wealth per capita
or the relative quality of goods
in a country. This situation tends to lower the ranking for some of the most advanced countries, such as the G7
members and others.
There is no established convention for the designation of "developed" and "developing" countries or areas in the United Nations
And it notes that:
The designations "developed" and "developing" are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.
Terms linked to the concept developed country
include "advanced country", "industrialized country", "'more developed country" (MDC), "more economically developed country" (MEDC), "Global North
country", "first world
country", and "post-industrial country". The term industrialized country may be somewhat ambiguous, as industrialisation
is an ongoing process that is hard to define. The first industrialized country was the United Kingdom
, followed by Belgium
. Later it spread further to Germany
, United States
and other Western European countries
. According to some economists
such as Jeffrey Sachs
, however, the current divide between the developed and developing world
is largely a phenomenon of the 20th century.
calls the binary labeling of countries as "neither descriptive nor explanatory. It is merely a thoughtless and destructive endorsement of GDP fetish. In reality, there are not two types of countries, but over 200 different countries, all faced with the same laws of nature, yet each with unique features."
Country lists by various criteria
Human Development Index (HDI)
Countries ranked in the "Very High" category of the Human Development Index (based on 2019 data, published in 2020).
The UN HDI is a statistical measure that gauges a country's level of human development. While there is a strong correlation between having a high HDI score and being a prosperous economy, the UN points out that the HDI accounts for more than income or productivity. Unlike GDP per capita or per capita income, the HDI takes into account how income is turned "into education and health opportunities and therefore into higher levels of human development."
Since 1990, Norway
(2001–2006, 2009–2018), Japan
(1990–1991 and 1993), Canada
(1992 and 1994–2000) and Iceland
(2007–2008) have had the highest HDI score.
Many countries listed by IMF as "advanced", possess an HDI
over 0.800, the threshold for "very high" human development. Many countries[Note 1]
possessing an HDI of 0.800 and over are conversely listed by IMF as "advanced". Thus, many "advanced economies" are characterized by an HDI score of 0.800 or higher.
The 2019 Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme
was released on 9 December 2019, and calculates HDI values based on estimates for 2018. Below is the list of the "very high human development" countries:
- = increase.
- = steady.
- = decrease.
- The number in parentheses represents the number of ranks the country has climbed (up or down) relative to the ranking in the year of 2017.
As a non-UN member, the government of Taiwan
calculates its own HDI based on UNDP's 2010 methodology
which had a value of 0.911 in 2018,[Note 2]
globally. Additionally, while the HDI for the Chinese special administrative region
of Hong Kong is calculated by the UN, it is not for Macau
. The Macanese government calculated the territory's HDI to be 0.868 in 2011. These values place both Taiwan and Macau well within the list of countries with "Very high human development".
Furthermore, in 2009 a United Nations project calculated the HDI for all of its members, as well as Taiwan, Macau, and many dependent territories
. The HDI values for the countries of San Marino
, which have not been included in official annual HDI reports, were found to be at 0.961 and 0.956 respectively. This places both countries firmly within the category of countries with "Very high human development" as well. The dependent territories with HDI values equivalent to "Very high human development" were: Jersey
, Cayman Islands
, Norfolk Island
, Faroe Islands
, Isle of Man
, British Virgin Islands
, Falkland Islands
, Puerto Rico
, and Guam
Of note, the HDI values in the 2009 report were calculated using the old HDI formula, while HDI values after the year 2010 are calculated with a different formula.
Some institutions have produced lists of developed countries: the UN (list shown above), the CIA,
and some providers of stock market indices (the FTSE Group
, Dow Jones
, etc.). The latter is not included here because its association of developed countries with countries with both high incomes and developed markets
is not deemed as directly relevant.[why?][Note 3]
However, many other institutions have created more general lists referred to when discussing developed countries. For example, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) identifies 39 "advanced economies".
's 37 members are known as the "developed countries club".
The World Bank
identifies 81 "high income countries".
Other standards, such as the 30-50 Club (GDP per capita over $30,000 and population over 50 million) have been developed to categorize highly developed and influential countries.
World Bank high-income economies
World Bank high-income economies in 2019
According to the World Bank the following 82 countries (including territories) are classified as "high-income economies". As of the 2021 fiscal year, high-income economies are those that had a GNI per capita of $12,536 or more in 2019.
37 countries and territories in Europe
21 countries and territories in the Americas
16 countries and territories in Asia
7 countries and territories in Oceania
7 former high-income economies:
High-income OECD members
According to the World Bank, the following 34 members are classified as "OECD High-Income":
26 countries in Europe:
3 countries in the Americas:
3 countries in Asia:
2 countries in Oceania:
Development Assistance Committee members
23 countries in Europe:
2 countries in the Americas:
2 countries in Asia:
2 countries in Oceania:
IMF advanced economies
Countries described as Advanced Economies by the IMF
27 countries and 3 territories in Europe
7 countries and territories in Asia
2 countries and 2 territories in the Americas
The CIA has modified an older version of the IMF's list of 38 Advanced Economies, noting that the IMF's Advanced Economies list "would presumably also cover the following nine smaller countries of Andorra, Bermuda, Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Holy See, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and San Marino[...]". San Marino was later included in the IMF's list.
Paris Club members
There are 22 permanent members in the Paris Club
: Club de Paris
), a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to find coordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries.
15 countries in Europe:
3 countries in the Americas:
3 countries in Asia:
1 country in Oceania:
Comparative table of countries with a "very high" human development (0.800 or higher), according to UNDP
members; "advanced" economies, according to the IMF
; "high income" economies, according to the World Bank
; and income per capita (purchasing power parity) higher than $22,000, according to the IMF
The list below features some outstanding countries selected from the comparative table above with average data of quality (best place in rankings) and quantity (considered in how many of the 33 rankings) with an evaluation greater than 60%.
- ^ Namely sovereign states, i.e., excluding Macau: In 2003, the government of Macau calculated its HDI as being 0.909 (the UN does not calculate Macau's HDI); In January 2007, the People's Daily Archived 7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine reported (from China Modernization Report 2007): "In 2004... Macau... had reached the level of developed countries". The UNCTAD Archived 10 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine organisation (of the UN), as well as the CIA Archived 9 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, classify Macau as a "developing" territory. The World BankArchived 28 August 2019 at the Wayback Machine classifies Macau as a high income economy (along with developed economies as well as with few developing economies).
- ^ In the 2018 Subnational Human Development Index (SHDI) Database, Taiwan's HDI was given as 0.880 among China's data. However, from 2019 onward, Taiwan and Hong Kong are no longer included in the SHDI Database among Chinese divisions. By contrast, the HDIs which published by the Statistical Bureau of Taiwan in its 2019 and 2020 reports were displayed as 0.911 in 2018, and 0.916 in 2019 respectively. The reason for the discrepancy is because there is no country data available for Taiwan in the UNDP database, and Taiwan is also excluded from its HDI data for China. The SHDI claimed that the data collection for Taiwan was also derived from the Taiwanese Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics; the latter source is used as primary data in this article.
- ^ The Developed Countries GlossaryArchived 20 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine entry reads: "The following countries are classified by FTSE as developed countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States."
- ^ Geographically a part of Asia, geopolitically a part of Europe.
- ^ Singapore is not a member of the OECD, and has reportedly turned down offers into joining it, meaning that such recognition will remain pending in the near future. However, the country is still considered by other institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations as developed, and membership to the OECD is not necessarily a criteria for developed status, as well as a country being a part of the OECD does not also mean that a country is developed (e.g. Colombia and Mexico). Singapore has a high-income economy, with the second-highest GDP per capita (PPP) in the world, as well as the highest Human Development Index rankings in the Asia-Pacific. In 2020, the country had also ranked first on the Human Capital Index.
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