20 March, 2016

Why is Mexico viewed as a Third World country?

It’s not anymore, at least not by anyone who knows what they’re talking about. It’s poorer than the US, but Mexico’s Human Development Index score is 0.756, which is officially considered “high”. But this photo of Mexico City perfectly illustrates the problem.

The problem in Mexico is inequality. The raw human development score for Mexico makes it look like Eastern Europe – not the highest, but decently good. Adjusted for inequality, however, Mexico finds itself amongst countries like Iraq and Vietnam.

So only a relatively small amount of people, limited mostly to Mexico City and other large cities, are able to enjoy very high levels of development.

Edit: Yes, technically “Third World” meant unaligned countries during the Cold War, and Finland and Switzerland were/are technically “Third World countries.” Mexico was officially one of those unaligned countries, hence its technical designation as a Third World country. But this classification was made decades ago and I answered the question as it pertains to modern usage of the term.

2 Comments on “Why is Mexico viewed as a Third World country?

Dana Greet
2 September, 2017 at 5:42 pm

How would Mexico compare to the US in terms of inequality ? Specifically, in terms of how much of the total amount of money in the top 5% of the populace, access to affordable health care, and percentage of people in poverty?

3 September, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Your specific questions are very difficult to answer without proper data. As far as countries go, the United States is not very equal, the top 10% in America make about 18 times more than the bottom 10%. In Mexico this number is slightly higher — the top 10% of Mexicans have incomes 20 times higher than the bottom 10%, on average.


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