Study Notes

GCSE Geography | Classifying Development (Development Gap 1)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 15 Jul 2024

Development refers to a change which leads to an improvement. When a country develops it usually improves the quality of life and standard of living of the people who live there, however this often comes at a cost to the environment, or can have an impact on the traditional way of life. The fact that different people have very different views on whether development actually improves a country, makes it a very complex area of geography!

The AQA specification uses the following classifications for countries at different stages of development...

  • High-income countries (HICs)* - countries with GNI per capita of above $14,005 (2024 figures)
  • Newly emerging economies (NEEs)** - countries which used to rely on agriculture but have recently seen growth in their manufacturing industries, and therefore have seen a growth in their economies
  • Low-income countries (LICs)*** - countries with GNI per capita of less than $1,145 (2024 figures)

* Some other specifications refer to these countries as developed countries

**Some other specifications refer to these countries as newly industrialising countries (NICs) or emerging countries

*** Some other specifications refer to these countries as developing countries

These definitions are used by the World Bank, but many people argue that the terms HICs and LICs are too simple and lead people to divide countries into 'rich' and 'poor', which can be misleading. Classifying countries has always proved problematic - in the past we have used the terms 'First World' and 'Third World' which are extremely outdated.

The World Bank also uses the terms upper-middle income countries ($4,516-14,005) and lower-middle income countries ($1,146-4,515) - around 90 countries that fall into these middle-income categories.

Sometimes groups of NEEs are linked together...

In 2006, Brazil, Russia, India and China formed the 'BRIC' group. At the time these four countries were seen as the most important developing nations - their economies were growing rapidly, and with it their political influence on the world stage. South Africa joined this group in 2010 so they became the 'BRICS'. At the start of 2024 Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were all invited to become members - so at some point there will be a new name to describe the expanded group.

In 2011 the MINT countries were formed - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. These were grouped together as they were seen to have the potential for rapid economic growth, and viewed as good countries for international investment.

An alternative approach to classifying parts of the world was suggested by Hans Rosling (author of Factfulness), who used income levels and lifestyles to classify development:

Stage 1 – extreme poverty – the billion people living on $1-2 a day and struggling to meet the most basic needs of having water, food and shelter.

Stage 2 – three billion people live on $4 a day and are able to meet their basic needs, but face a lot of uncertainty.

Stage 3 – two billion people live on $8-$32 a day, are likely to have access to water and electricity in their homes, and face less uncertainty as they have more stable incomes.

Stage 4 – the billion people living on $32 or more a day are able to afford consumer goods and to travel. Their insurance, bank accounts and pensions give them a great deal of security.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.