In this blog, we are going to learn how to compare different countries or states. You might ask if development can mean different things, How come some countries are generally called developed while others are called under-developed? I
But before we come to this, let us consider another question. When we compare different things, they could have similarities as well as differences. But the question arises, which aspects do we use to compare them? Let us take this example. Let us look at students in the class itself.
How do we compare different students? They differ in their height, health, talents, and interests. The healthiest student may not be the most studious one. The most intelligent student may not be the friendliest one. So, how do we compare students? The criterion we may use depends on the purpose of comparison.
We use different criteria to choose a sports team, a debate team, a music team, or a team to organize a picnic. Still, if for some purpose, we have to choose the criterion for the all-around progress of children in the class, how shall we do it?
Usually, we take one or more important characteristics of persons and compare them based on these characteristics. Of course, there can be differences about what are important characteristics that should form the basis of comparison: friendliness and spirit of cooperation, creativity, or marks secured? This is true of development too.
So how to compare different countries or states?
For comparing countries, their income is considered to be one of the most important attributes. Countries with higher income are more developed than others with less income. This is based on the understanding that more income means more of all things that human beings need. Whatever people like, they will be able to get it with greater income.
So, the greater income itself is considered to be one important goal. Now, what is the income of a country? Intuitively, the income of the country is the income of all the residents of the country. This gives us the total income of the country.
However, for comparison between countries, total income is not such a useful measure. Since, countries have different populations, comparing total income will not tell us what an average person is likely to earn. Are people in one country better off than others in a different country? To answer it, we compare the average income which is the total income of the country divided by its total population.
The average income is also called per capita income. In World Development Report 2006, brought out by the World Bank, this criterion is used in classifying countries. Countries with a per capita income of Rs 4,53,000 per annum and above in 2004, are called rich countries, and those with a per capita income of Rs 37,000 or less are called low-income countries.
India comes in the category of low-income countries because its per capita income in 2004 was just Rs 28,000 per annum. The rich countries, excluding countries of the Middle East and certain other small countries, are generally called developed countries. As you can see in this map, the countries in blue are developed countries.