Prosperity Versus Planning: How Government Stifles Economic Growth

By David Osterfeld | Go to book overview

1
The Three Worlds

The Evolution of Terminology

In currently fashionable terminology, Third World refers to those states, comprising about two-thirds of the world's population, that are poor. But this was not always so. The term was coined in the early days of the Cold War to designate those states that were aligned with neither the First World nor the Second World. The First World referred to those countries, largely in the West, whose political systems were democratic and whose economic systems were, by and large, market oriented. The Second World referred to those countries, largely in the East, whose political systems tended to be authoritarian and whose economies were highly interventionist. Thus the term Third World did not originally imply anything more than a proclamation of noninvolvement in the bipolarism of the Cold War ( Harris, 1987, pp. 7,11-12; Henkin, 1979, pp. 119-121). While the terms First and Second Worlds helped to distinguish between two contrasting and competing ideologies or ways of life, the term Third World did not imply that its members shared anything in common other than the desire to remain independent of the struggles of the first two worlds. The term referred neither to a particular political or economic ideology that its members shared, nor, for that matter, to the economic status of its members.

As the tensions between the first two "worlds" were gradually relaxed, the East- West conflict was overshadowed by what became known as the "North-South" conflict. It was only at this point that the identifying feature of the Third World, or the South, became that of poverty, as distinguished from the wealth of the so-called North, which in fact was actually the First World, or the West ( Bauer, 1987; Bauer and Yamey, 1980, pp. 116-119). The Second World, or the East (most of whose members were clearly in the North both geographically and, insofar as their standard of living was concerned, economically) tended to align itself with the South against the North. Thus the meaning of the term Third World has evolved over the past two decades from the political notion of nonalignment in Cold War rivalries to an economic notion based on its members' low standard of living.

This transformation from a political to an economic concept has produced some rather interesting anomalies. Most obvious are the geographical anomalies. Such countries as Australia and New Zealand are considered part of the "North" even though they are farther south than most of the members of the "South." In fact, many "Southern" countries, including Mongolia, Iran, Turkey, Tunisia,

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Prosperity Versus Planning: How Government Stifles Economic Growth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I - Theoretical Framework 1
  • 1 - The Three Worlds 3
  • 2 - Economy, Government, and Culture 19
  • II - The Key Variables 59
  • 3 - Food 61
  • 4 - Resources 84
  • Notes 102
  • 5 - Population 104
  • III - Economic Development: Engines and Obstacles 137
  • 6 - Foreign Aid 139
  • 7 - Multinationals 162
  • 8 - Migration 194
  • 9 - Corruption 204
  • Note 218
  • IV - Conclusion: The Enabling Environment 219
  • 10 - Property, Law, and Development 221
  • Notes 245
  • References 247
  • Index 265
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