The first world is a term used to refer to those more developed countries. That is, those who have a higher level and quality of life thanks to high wealth and its distribution.
The concept of the first world has evolved over time.
It arose to name a group of allied countries in a warlike conflict. But currently its meaning goes further, as it is used to indicate those countries with a higher standard of living than the rest of the world.
But not only in the aspect of monetary and material wealth, but in other aspects of life. These aspects are measured by the HDI (Human Development Index), it is a joint calculation of income, life expectancy and educational level.
Origin of the first world
As we have mentioned, it is worth highlighting the difference between the concept in its origin and its current meaning.
This arises after the Second World War.
After the war, there are a series of disputes within the bloc of the allies. Two camps emerge from this, the western or capitalist bloc (made up of France, Great Britain and the United States) and the eastern or socialist bloc (made up of the Soviet Union and all the countries of eastern Europe that were annexed).
Thus the division and distribution of Germany between these two blocks took place. The Cold War began.
The allied countries of the so-called “western bloc” were called the first world. The allies of the “eastern bloc” were called the second world. Ultimately, the non-aligned constituted the third world. This division was later materialized through different agreements. The capitalist bloc through NATO, and the eastern one with the Warsaw Pact.
The concept has evolved over time. In this sense, all that country with certain social and economic advancement is called the first world. On the other hand, developing countries, or moderately developed, are considered second world. And, finally, the third world is made up of those whose poverty and misery is more widespread, a position in which the majority of its population lives.
First world and the HDI
The HDI is used to know the development of each country beyond income. It is an index developed by the UN whose score ranges from 0 to 1, from lowest to highest development. As we mentioned at the beginning, it is made up of three variables:
- Life expectancy: Measures how many years a person expects to live from birth.
- Education: Measures literacy and years of schooling.
- Rent: It is calculated through GDP per capita, in dollars.
According to the index, the three most developed countries, with a score greater than 0.950, are Norway, Switzerland and Ireland. And, out of the top ten, eight are European. The exceptions are Hong Kong and Australia.
First world characteristics
Next, we are going to detail a series of characteristics typical of the first world countries:
- High HDI: Probably the most important characteristic, since it directly measures the development of a country.
- Democracy: If we look at the list of developed countries we observe that, except Hong Kong, the first positions are occupied by those whose form of government is democracy. And, to see the first dictatorial country, we have to go to position 31, occupied by the United Arab Emirates.
- Rights and freedomsThese countries are characterized by the fact that their population enjoys a high degree of political rights and civil liberties.
- Mixed economyAlthough the economic system that prevails is the capitalist one, there is a great state intervention that functions as a reallocator of resources.
- Public services: It is related to the previous characteristic. These countries, to a greater or lesser extent, offer a number of public services so that no private citizen has access to the most basic services. Financed through taxes.
- High technology: And all that this entails, such as a very advanced industry and high scientific development.
- Inner peace: This is perhaps the characteristic that is least valued, but whose importance is vital. First world countries can wage wars abroad, but not within their borders. War, both civil and between nations, supposes destruction in all areas, which would imply a clear regression.
First world and its relationship with democracy
Democracy is not only popularly electing the government, it involves many other elements. Respect for human rights; the guarantee of civil liberties and political rights; physical security; and the legal security provided by a strong and independent judicial system, among others, are some of these elements.
Thus, it is no coincidence that first world countries are those with the strongest democracies. Investment, technologization and free trade are the engines of growth. And nothing like democracy, and the legal security that it provides, to guarantee its free development.