Lower developed countries

I came across this phrase in copy recently:

lower developed countries

Typing it into Google gives around 1,200 results so it is in occasional use (less common is 'lower developed economies'). But the phrase seems ugly to me. After all, you wouldn't refer to 'low developed countries' (unless you meant the Netherlands, perhaps, which is both low and developed). Even with a hyphen, I don't like it.

But then, I've never really been keen on the phrase 'developing countries' either, which is what the OED gives. It seems arrogant to assume that countries such as the US and the UK aren't still developing. Unless, of course, they're moving backwards...

So what's the alternative – less-developed countries? At least that shares its acronym – LDCs – with 'lower developed countries'. Any other ideas?


TootsNYC said...
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TootsNYC said...
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TootsNYC said...

(let me try this again)

lower isn't an adverb!

(did they mean it as an adjective--as in Lower Slobovia?)

less-developed countries would be grammatically correct.

Is this a phrase that is used by economists, as part of their technical jargon?

Is this another case of "Don't Let Them Get Their Hands on Their Own Jargon"?


Maybe not.

These guys, Tutor2u, use "less developed countries" for "LDC."

But most definitive of all:

The United Nations uses LDC for "Least Developed Countries"

--so, what, lower developed countries aren't *quite* as undeveloped as "least"?

But if your writer *does* mean "lesser, but not least," you should NOT use LDC, I don't think.

The International Monetary Fund has its own category of "developing countries."


I think if a writer wants to label a country's economy, he needs to pick some sort of standard like one of these, and properly identify it. It's not correct to simply throw the phrase around.

mighty red pen said...

I have to agree with you that this is an unsatisfactory term, but I haven't found one I like yet. One place I worked preferred "developing countries/nations" and said never never use "Third World countries." Another place I worked greatly preferred "Third World" but then switched to "Global North/South."

I think when it becomes really obvious that such terms are unsatisfying are in cases such as in the US post-Hurricane Katrina when people would run around the Gulf Coast saying things like "OMG, it's like going to a developing country ... right here in the US!" Duh.

JD said...

Yep, 'lower' isn't an adverb – I suppose the corresponding adverb would be 'lowly', as in 'lowly paid workers' (OED). But surely 'lowly developed countries' can't be correct...

I have never come across Global North/South - in England we talk about a national North/South divide quite a lot though.

No one has suggested 'the West' or 'the Western World' yet. But as Wikipedia points out, would that include a country such as Japan?

TootsNYC said...

But the U.N. has a specifically defined term (w/ numbers to go with it) for Least Developed Countries--there's no real pejorative there (as there is for Third World).

That's an economic term carefully defined by a multinational organization.

TootsNYC said...
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JD said...

The UN page you linked to, Toots, also makes reference to "Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States". So we have some countries that are least developed and others that are developing. Doesn't this imply that the least developed states are not developing? It may be that the UN is better at economics than it is at giving labels to things.

But then I suppose writers can at least use "least developed countries" knowing there is a strong precedent for it. And anything has to be better than "lower developed countries"!

The Ridger, FCD said...

I think that "West" does include Japan. It's no longer a geographic term, but a politico-economic one, and Japan is certainly part of it.