First World is a term used since the Cold War. The concept anticipates the NATO states and its allies, as a counter to the Soviet bloc. It stands to mention that the “First World” countries held out as democratic and capitalistic ones.
The USSR Collapse meant a shift in the essence of the notion “First World”. Currently, fewer political risks, sustainable democracy, law supremacy, market-driven economy, and high living standards are the characteristics of the concept. Differentiation of such First World states takes place due to the following ratios: gross domestic product (GDP), gross national product (GNP), human development index (HDI), and, as a rule, life expectancy.
Essence of the First World
Initially, it should be mentioned what states are included in the actual “First World” definition. The top consists of the referring ones - the U.S., France, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Finland, along with some Middle East countries. Moreover, it’s essential to recall that measuring methods can vary. Above-mentioned ratios are used, as well as established currency and reliable financial markets. By virtue of these criteria, states draw the attention of the players from all over the world, making the investment processes appealing.
The term “First World” was initially coined in 1945 by the United Nations to determine the relative wealth of nations. After the Cold War, influence areas were divided between the U.S., the Soviet Union and neutral states. Therefore, the American government and its allies formed the first union, so-called the First World, the Second one consisted of the USSR and its political backers, while the Third world was headed by neutral countries.
Despite the fact that today the Soviet Union no longer exists, the conditional division into three zones remains the same. Nowadays, the main, and only difference is that the emphasis is on economic characteristics rather than political ones.
Criteria for the First World determining
As it was mentioned before, the countries of the First World include all developed industrial nations, where there are more rich citizens than poor ones. Although, many experts doubt the criteria by which the list of the First World or advanced countries is determined.
According to the accepted definition, the following metrics are applied to define the First World nations:
- Human Development Index (HDI) estimates the economic and social progress of each state. During calculation, three types of indicators are taken into account: life expectancy that evaluates longevity; access to education, and a decent standard of living. Therefore, solid performance signifies the ability of a country to join the list of “First World”.
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita demonstrates the level of economic activity and the quality of people’s life.
- Literacy level means a percentage of the population that is able to read and write. Usually these are the individuals older than 15 years old. The higher literacy rate is, the more chances of being a “First World”, the state has.
- Life expectancy is an average age, counted from birth till death of the population. A greater indicator represents the superior healthcare system the country provides, so that it can be considered the First World one.
Reviewing the First World
Anyway, regardless of the variety of interpretations for the “First World” term, numerous criticisms exist. There is overwhelming evidence that the above-mentioned division understates certain countries, because of fewer geopolitical significance. This may result in straining international relations between developed and developing countries.
Usually the First World nations promote their own foreign policy in order to increase wealth and obtain stability by facilitating trade. For instance, the attempts to put pressure on the UN and the WTO (World Trade Organization) decrees. It’s necessary to point out that resource availability has no role in the determination of a “First World” nation. An example can be indicated with the Russian Federation, shipping gas to other territories. At the same time, even making a significant contribution to the global community through such supplies, Russia cannot be referred to as the “First World” concept, possessing postsocialist economy.
First World as an out-of-date model
The division of First, Second, and Third Worlds may be considered quite an obsolete one. Nowadays this practice shouldn’t be used in the new multipolar global economy. We also have to accommodate the interests of developing countries. Such an approach includes reducing poverty, and replacing the fragile states with a stable financial footing.
Alternatively, a majority of countries strive to embrace democracy and capitalism in the footsteps of the U.S., but they aren’t admitted as being the “First World” ones. Such nations are neither below the poverty line, nor extremely wealthy. So recognizing these countries as Third world nations can’t be a right decision, and, at some point, it sounds even humiliating.
Association of the term “First World’ with the U.S. led to a fall-reaching effect. Major deficit countries, for example, Saudi Arabia, being rich in oil and having a higher percent of income per capita, than others, as a consequence, aren’t still considered as the First World ones.
Anyway, nowadays wealth disparity can also be the greatest problem. High income per capita in the First World nations doesn’t mean that the revenue is distributed equally between all social groups. Impoverished regions are present almost everywhere. For instance, Urumqi may be called one of the poorest cities in China, although the country itself is known as a major superpower.