• Development

    • The improvement in the quality of life and standard of living.

  • Standard of living

    • The living conditions, or the conditions in which people live. If one has access to education, health care, and other basic amenities, one is said to experience a higher standard of living. DCs generally experience a higher standard of living than LDCs.

  • Quality of life

    • Once people are satisfied with their standard of living, they begin to look beyond meeting their basic needs.

    • The degree of satisfaction that one has with his living conditions and lifestyles will determine the quality of life.

    • The quality of life in places with proper infrastructure and social benefits is generally higher. The quality of life included non-material aspects such as access to leisure.


Economic indicators

  • Income per Capita

    • Average income each worker in a country receives in a year.

    • Indicate wealth of a country

    • Measures Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income of a country excluding investments and business held abroad.

    • More developed countries tend to have higher income per capita

  • Employment structure

    • The proportion of the workforce in the three main employment sectors: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.

    • Primary industry does not generate much income.

    • The more people involved in secondary and tertiary industry, the more developed a country is.

  • Employment Opportunities

    • Availability of jobs in a country

    • Increase in job opportunity→ employment→ Increase in income→ Improve standard of living and quality of life.

    • DCs tend to have higher employment opportunities

    • As standard of living increases, secondary and tertiary industry expands to suit people’s needs, resulting in more employment opportunities for people.

    • LDCs are usually poor, there is little demand for goods and services, thus fewer employment opportunities

Health Indicators

  • Well-being of a person with regard to his or her mental and physical conditions.

  • Indicates the availability and accessibility to medical and health care.

  • Also indicate the availability of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.

  • Life Expectancy

    • The average number of years a person is expected to live

    • Usually, the higher the life expectancy, the more develop a country is.

    • Influenced by the amt of food available, the cleanliness of the environment, the access to health care, and a country’s political and social stability.

    • Poor health limits the country’s development by lowering the productivity of the workforce. Affecting national income, resulting in inadequate health care.

  • Infant Mortality Rate

    • The rate at which the number of babies less than one year of age dies, for every 1000 live births, in a year.

    • More developed country tend to have a lower IMR

    • Because DC has proper health care amenities, such as clinics, hospitals and medical research facilities.

  • Access to water supply

    • Provision of clean water for people in a country

    • Drinking water is easily available in DCs, because water is easily available by pipes. There are water treatment plants to ensure that water is clean.

    • While in LDCs, people have to travel long distances to attain clean water. There is a lack of clean water too. This reflects the poor standard of living in a country.

  • Access to sanitation facilities

    • Access to sanitation facilities allows people to dispose of human waste hygienically.

    • Random disposal of human waster will cause proliferation of bacteria and human diseases.

    • DCs usually have proper flushing and waste disposal systems.

Educational Indicators

  • The process of learning and the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

  • The standard of education in a country reflects its standard of living to a certain extent.

  • Literacy Rate

    • The percentage of adults in a country, who are above 15 years old, who can read and write.

    • Education is needed to high-skilled tertiary and quaternary industry, which will ensure the continuous development of a country to achieve a better standard of living.

  • Human development index (HDI)

    • Refers to an index that measures the level of development of a country, based on its economic well-being, health and education standards.

    • Countries are classified as countries with high human development, countries with median development, and countries with low development.

    • Limitations of HDI

      • It is most accurate when accessing DCs

      • It is easier to obtain data from a developed countries

      • In some places of LEDCs, data is not available

      • HDI also fails to take into account measurement of human rights and freedom

      • Which are important factors in determining the level of development

Reasons for Uneven Development

Historical Reasons

  • Colonialism

    • Definition: Domination of a more powerful country over another country. Colonization affected the way in which many countries develop.

    • Colonial powers are more developed than colonies

      • Colonial powers withdraw Raw Materials (natural resources used to manufacture products for profits) from their colonies.

      • E.g. Portuguese colonized Angola in the 15th century, Portuguese made use of their colony’s climate and soil to grow cash crops. Crops would be transported back to the home countries for sale.

      • Colonial powers had the means to add value to the raw materials gained from their colonies. Colonial powers gain in profits and became more developed.

    • Colonies less developed than colonial powers

      • Areas such as education and environmental protection were not developed; many colonies remained poor once the colonial powers drew out their powers.

      • Disparity widened as DCs continue to soar in technology and industrialization. While former colonies continue to export low-value raw materials, gaining low profits.

Presence of Raw Materials

  • Definition: Basic materials, from which a product is manufactured or made, frequently used with an extended meaning i.e. can be exploited for economic profits.

  • Countries that have plenty of raw materials develop faster than countries that have few or no raw materials

    • e.g. Norway, ranked first on HDI, is well endowed with natural resources such as timber and crude oil which can be converted to furniture and oil.

    • They tend to develop more quickly as profits earned from selling the raw materials can be spent to develop the country.

    • However, this may not always be the case. TNCs and colonial powers may dominate the state, withdrawing their raw materials and profits earned.

    • More money could also be put in to develop the urban areas, leaving rural areas undeveloped i.e. Nigeria.


  • Definition: atmospheric conditions at a specific place over a considerable period of time, usually 30-35 years.

  • It is generally believe that countries in temperate regions develop better than countries in tropical regions.

    • i.e. countries with high rankings in HDI such as Norway, Iceland, Australia and Canada are in temperate regions, while countries with low rankings such as Mali, Niger, Chad are in the tropical regions (more specifically tropical grassland regions of Africa).

    • Consider if the climate has any influence on development.

  • Temperate climate is important for the growth of crops

    • The cool and moist climate is suitable for the growth of important crops such as wheat and oat. Crops can be planted on a large scale for sale.

    • It is an important factor for the development of some countries in the 19th century, but is not applicable now.

  • Modern technology can be used to overcome the limitations of climate.

    • e.g. Greenhouse, nurseries and genetic engineering

    • Most LDCs have no modern technology to help them. In regions with high temperature and low rainfall, such as Mali and Ethiopia, draughts are very common. Agricultural activities are affected and thus their main income curtailed.

  • Climatic disasters hinder developments

    • Draughts and floods may easily hinder developments in LEDCs as they have little preventive methods against them.

    • Most LEDCs have most emphasis on primary industry and agricultural activities. Climatic disaster will destroy much of the nation’s GDP.

    • e.g. China experiences annual floods from the Yangtze River and Yellow River. In 2005 alone, the floods killed over 1000 people and cause damage up to US$12.6 billion. Mainly affects rural population.

  • Technology can be used to overcome problems of climatic disasters

    • Netherlands are mostly low-lying and flat, very vulnerable to floods.

    • However, a series of flood management programmes are implemented by the government.

    • The Zuider Zee Project reclaimed land from an inland sea called the Zuider Zee. The reclaimed land serves as a buffer zone for floods.

    • Therefore, though climatic disasters can affect the level of development in a country, technology can be used to minimize its impact.

Economic Reasons

  • Cumulative Causation

    • Definition: the process of how the movement of people and resources from periphery area increases the wealth of the core area.

  • Multiplier effect

    • This multiplier effect occurs when the initial development of the core results in benefits that drive its further development.

  • Cumulative Causation & Uneven development

    • On an international scale, DCs tend to be core countries while LDCs tend to be periphery countries.

    • Core tends to develop quickly, because it usually has a head start with natural advantages such as natural resources and a favorable climate.

    • In contrast, the periphery usually lacks natural advantages; hence it tends to develop slowly.

  • Backwash Effect

    • Areas which have better potential to develop will attract investments, labour and resources compared to areas which have less potential to develop.

    • E.g. When Singapore began to develop quickly; it attracted workers from periphery countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines.

    • This results in the periphery being drained of labour and resources, which hinders their development.

    • This effect is defined by the flow of labour and raw materials form the periphery to the core.

  • Spread Effect

    • Some geographers believe that this uneven development will eventually disappear due to the spread effect, an effect opposite of backwash effect.

    • Spread effect will eventually lead to the spread of wealth and knowledge throughout the periphery from the core.

    • Benefits gained from development will spread from the core to the periphery.

    • Thus we can view development as centrifugal growth, an outward-directed growth.

    • On a side note, governments can also attract foreign investment to their countries by encouraging a particular industry to develop.

    • E.g. Thailand encourages development in automobile industry, which helped the country to develop since the late 1990s. Japanese automobile companies moved their factories to Thailand and locals learned knowledge and skills from them. Investments from Japan also helped Thailand to develop.

Social Reasons

  • Education

    • DCs generally have a higher literacy rate than LDCs.

    • With more people in the country being able to read and write, people in DCs are more likely to work in the secondary and tertiary industries and contribute to a higher standard of living within the country.

    • Literacy rates are usually linked with the development of a country. The higher the literacy rate, the more development a country is.

    • E.g. Italy had a high GDP per capita of US$ 27 199. It has a high adult literacy rate of 98.5%. Italy puts a lot emphasis on its education.

  • Population Growth Rate

    • Rate of population growth could affect a country’s development.

    • When a country’s population increases quickly due to a higher birth rate than death rate, its people tend to face problems of overpopulation such as insufficient food and housing. This affects their standard of living.

    • DCs usually have a low rate of population growth, such as Norway and Japan. People in DCs tend to have fewer children due to higher cost of living, higher standard of living and changing lifestyle.

Political Reasons

  • Political Conflict

    • Political Conflicts hinders developments in LDCs

    • Conflicts: refers to a state of disagreement that may result in violence and bloodshed. Conflicts may occur in the form of wars or political instability.

    • E.g. Cambodia has been successful until a civil war happened in the 1970s, and its economy suffered greatly. Businesses were disrupted as people were forced out of the major cities and towns to live in the rural areas. Many were killed, and those who lived were left with little possessions to start their lives again. Tourists avoided the countries only till recent times.

    • Lack of political stability deters investors from setting up businesses in these countries. Investments from overseas businesses can help a country develop, such as the automobile industry in Thailand. Foreign companies would not want to invest in a politically and economically unstable country as their businesses can be disrupted.

    • Countries with long political stability (e.g. Switzerland) allow businesses to expand, develop and flourish.

  • Leadership

    • Leadership is a process of setting directions, motivating people into action and working towards a common goal.

    • It has been observed that countries that are progressing well in their economic, health and education sectors are run by governments that are efficient and development-oriented.

    • E.g. Norway’s government has not only shown care not only for the economic development of the country, but also for the well-being of the people. The governments exploited the potential of their Petroleum, and at the same time, share the wealth with its people.

    • Many leaders now realize the importance of having strong, reliable and sustainable leadership in order for development to place smoothly. Therefore many governments are working with external organizations.

Alleviating Uneven Development (on a International Scale)

Types of Development Projects

Top-Down Development

Bottom-Up Development

  • Usually Large scale

  • Carried out by governments, international organizations and “experts”

  • Done by people from outside the area

  • Imposed upon the area or people by outside organizations

  • Often well-funded and can respond quickly to disasters

  • The Three Gorges Dam and the Aswan High Dam are good examples of top-down developments

  • The local people are not involved in the decision-making process

  • Emergency relief can also be considered

  • Small scale

  • Involves local communities and local people

  • Labour intensive

  • Usually limited funding available

  • Common projects include building earthen dams, creating cottage industries

  • Local people are involved in the decision making process

  • Run by the local people for the locals

International Cooperation

International Organizations

  • World Bank

    • World Bank is an example of an international organization made up of countries committed to provide aid to reduce poverty in the world.

    • Established in 1944, the World Bank provides aid in forms of capital or technology to LDCs to help them develop.

    • Members of the World Bank loans money with little or no interest.

    • E.g. the World Bank’s Kecamatan Development Programme (KDP) in 1998, provided aid to 25 villages in Indonesia in that year.

    • Between 1998 and 2006, over US$890 million in funds were supplied in a combi of loans and credits from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

    • Presently, the KDP is the largest community driven programme in the world that benefited over 34 000 villages in Indonesia.

    • Under KDP, monetary grants are given directly to villages to pay for their own development plans. E.g. Building new Water supply.

  • Asian Development Bank

    • The ADB was established in 196 to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life people in the Asia Pacific Region.

    • The ADB provides aid to its 67 member in the form of monetary loans and technical assistance. Countries can make use of such aid to further develop.

    • E.g. In 1994, the ADB provided financial and technical help to Bangladesh in the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Project, which was aimed at improving the country’s transport infrastructure.

    • The aim is connect the less developed northwest to the more developed east.

    • The establishment of the bridge benefits the countries economically by alleviating traffic problems and improving efficiency.

International Agreements

  • Because there is no World Government, we need international agreements.

  • United Nations Millennium Development Goals

    • Aims at alleviating uneven development, the UN drew up an agreement in 2000 to help LDCs achieve greater development by eradicating poverty.

Case Study for UNMDG: Vietnam

  • The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in Vietnam decreased from 58.1% in 1993 to 24.1% in 2004.

  • Training people living in poor communities so that they could have the skills to look for a job; having a job would help them afford at least the basic necessities and improve their standard of living.

  • Other strategies include increasing access to basic social services for the poor, educational campaigns to raise awareness of the dire direction of poverty in the country, and pressure on the government to create jobs and increase income.

Progress in Education

  • The highest increase for enrolment in primary school is in South East Asia, where enrolment rose from 72% in 1999 to 89% in 2004. This is largely due to development in India.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

  • UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 by more than 160 countries.

  • The international agreement was an attempt to control the usage of resources in the seas and oceans of the world. This ensures that these resources were being used in a sustainable manner and that they would not be overused and depleted.

  • Under the agreement, coastal states have the exclusive right to use resources, such as and oil, in the waters within 200 nautical miles from their shoreline.

  • This area is termed “Exclusive Economic Zone”. It was developed to prevent fisherman of a country from coping resources from another country, or prevent over-exploitation of a specific region.

  • Before the agreement, there was a growing concern over the depletion of resources in the seas. Technological advancements allow higher yield in fishing which resulted in the depletion of fish stocks in popular hunting regions such as North Sea. Pollution was brought into attention and thus the world needs an agreement to uphold the sustainable development.

  • This agreement is beneficial for coastal LDCs. E.g. Peru is a coastal LDCs where fishing industry is important to its industry. The agreement prevents the competition between DCs and LDCs for sea resources as LDCs are weak in their technology. This ensures the LDCs have their resources to develop and a fair chance to advance.

National Developments

  • Reduce uneven development in a country; help the poor citizens of a country achieve a better standard of living.

  • Different countries require different strategies to tackle their problems.

  • Strategies to promote national development in less developed regions

    • Improving water supply and sanitation facilities

      • Areas with clean water supply and proper sanitation tend to be more developed. Government has realized the importance of providing adequate infrastructure to ensure that their citizens have these basic needs met. E.g. India.

      • Case Study: Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, India.

        • Ahmedabad is a major commercial, industrial and financial centre. However, 41% of its population lives in slums and squatter settlements, more than 25% of the population does not have toilet facilities and extreme poverty is widespread.

        • In the mid 1990s, the Parivartan Slum Networking Programme was established to help this area, to give local slum dwellers a higher quality of life. The local government decided on areas to be upgraded and local banks financed the project.

        • Slum dwellers were provided with the basic infrastructure so that they would have access to clean water supply and underground sewerage, individual toilets and solid waste collection. These would help to reduce the spread of diseases found in waste and contaminated water.

        • Monthly monitoring meetings were held to review the work progress and to discuss future plans. Training was also provided to teach the people in the community about the proper usage of the new facilities, to prevent them from getting damaged or have them repair if malfunctioning.

        • Within 5 years, the plan benefited over 56 000 people in over 40 slums. It currently expanded to 59 more slums.

        • After the people in these areas had access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities, death rate declined from 6.9 per 1000 people to 3.7 per 1000 people. Fewer people suffered from greater illness. The project helped the area to develop

    • Improving Education Standards

      • Education indicators such as literacy rates are used to determine the level of development of a country. With Education, people in a country can read and write, the likelihood of them finding a job is higher. These people will also be able to upgrade their skills through training and development programmes.

      • Less developed areas tend to have lower standard of education because there are few schools and people tend to be illiterate.

      • Governments are now implementing policies to improve on this. E.g. Thailand.

      • The Royal Thai Government recognized the need to help the less developed regions in Thailand, such as the hill tribe communities in the North. Education was identified as a key factor.

      • The hill tribe communities are made up of about 1 million people from various tribes. They live in extreme poverty and have a much lower standard of living compared to most people in urban cities. Most have no education or are illiterate.

      • In 1998, the Hill Tribe Education Project was developed under the government policy to provide “Education for All”. The project aims to promote literacy. Formal and informal education programmes were developed to suit the needs of the hill tribe communities. Various community learning centers are built and volunteer teachers are brought in.

      • Since the project is to relieve poverty in the hill tribes, part of the education programme was to teach the communities about sustainable development so that they could continue to support themselves and improve their standard of living. E.g. they were taught sustainable farming methods, and agricultural production increased since then.

      • With basic education, many hill tribe people can find employment in cities. This increased their income.

      • However, the effectiveness of this programme is limited. Their geological isolation made communication difficult, thus government is unable to reach out to large numbers of people. There are also communication barriers between the tribe and the volunteers.

    • Population Control

      • Having large population will consume a lot of resources. Overpopulation brings with it many problems such as shortage of jobs and housing, and limited access to education, as there are too many people competing for too few resources.

      • China’s Policies in the 1970s

        • High Population growth in the 1970s will affect its development.

        • The “One Child” policy was implemented in 1979. It was a population control strategy that allowed each couple in China to have only one child.

        • While this policy worked in cities, it is more difficult to be implemented in the rural areas. Because couples in rural areas need more help in farming, and Chinese tradition of having a son.

        • The government depended on local authorities to reach out to people. Volunteers were recruited to promote late marriage, late childbearing, and the use of contraception to keep birth rate low. The policy was generally a success.

    • Job Creation and Financial assistance

      • In trying to raise the standard of living of living of its people, a government needs to ensure that there are enough jobs for its population.

      • With insufficient jobs, the country’s GDP will remain low, and people will not have enough money to meet their basic needs.

      • A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2000 noted that there were 4.3 million poor families in the Philippines. More than three quarters of these people were from communities of indigenous people, or were poor farmers in rural areas. There is a widening income disparity too.

        • To address the income gap, the government implemented a key project in 2001 to help and empower the poor. It is known as Kapit-Bisig Laban Sa Kahirapan (KALAHI) or “Linking Arms with Poverty”.

        • The aim is to improve the standard of living of the poor in the Philippines. One of the main ways to accomplish this is by to increase the employment rate of income of the poor.

        • It would be difficult to put these people in formal sectors such as banking or teaching as they went through little or no education. Therefore, most work in the informal sector. This consists of small family-run businesses that are labour intensive and require little skills. E.g. selling homemade products, delivery services, and domestic services.

        • However, less attention is given to this sector. Small businesses were rarely given loans to build and sustain their income. Many would fail because of the lack of financing and the lack of training.

        • In the KALAHI plan, more attention and resources are given to the poor to help informal sector to develop.

        • Known as microfinance, small loans were given to small business in order to help them develop and grow. The government and NGOs will assess these businesses to ensure that the funds are put into productive ways and not wasted.

        • The ultra-poor were given interest-free loans. The government also had banks to allocate part of their credit loans to be given to poor farmers and entrepreneurs. Many other private organizations also volunteered in financial aid.

        • The poor were given training and advice on their businesses, this helps them to run their businesses productively and effectively.

      • Results of the KALAHI plan

        • Since the implementation, about three million people have been helped. 600,000 agricultural jobs were created in rural areas and the government has also provided jobs, through job placement schemes, to about 1.7 million people who were previously unemployed. Poverty rates have thus decreased in the rural areas as more people now had incomes and were able to afford basic necessities.

        • However, there are more that needs to be done to narrow the income gap. The government in Philippines has realized that there is a need to diversify the products and skills of the poor. The poor also needs more market access in order to get more people to purchase their goods

Are Aids Effective or Ineffective?



  • It provides humanitarian relief

  • It provides external resources for investment and finances projects that could not be undertaken with commercial capital

  • Project assistance helps expand much need infrastructure

  • Aid contributes to personnel training and builds technical expertise

  • Aid can support development of better economic and social policies

  • Aid might allow countries to postpone improving economic management and mobilization of domestic resources

  • Aid can replace domestic saving, direct foreign investment and commercial capital as the main resources of investment and technology development

  • The provision of aid might promote dependency rather than self reliance

  • Some countries have allowed food aid to depress agricultural prices, resulting in greater poverty in rural areas and a dependency on food imports; it also increased the risk of famine in the future

  • Aid is sometimes turned on and off in response to the political and strategic agenda of the donor country, making funds unpredictable; this can result in interruptions in development programmes

  • The provision of aid might result in the transfer of inappropriate technologies or the funding of environmentally unsound projects

  • Emergency aid does not solve the long term economic development problems of a country

  • Too much aid is tied to the purchase of goods and services from the donor country, which might not be the best nor the most economical

  • A lot of aid does not reach those who need it, that is, the poorest people in the poorest countries.