Core countries are wealthy, developed and industrialized countries that middle- and low-income countries, typically classified as semi-periphery and periphery countries, depend on for economic assistance. Core countries tend to have a wide variety of resources at their disposal, command large and well-funded militaries, and possess advanced economies that enable them to influence the global economic market. Residents of core countries are generally believed to be wealthier and better educated than people in periphery countries, which are often among the world's least-developed nations.
While there is a general definition of a core country, there are no set or clearly defined criteria to determine an exact list of core countries. The most widely accepted general definition includes the majority of Western Europe as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. However, various sources differ. For example, the American Sociological Review published the following list in 2000:
List of Core Countries (American Sociological Review, 2000):
|Sweden||Switzerland||United Kingdom||United States|
However, American sociologist Salvatore Babones has suggested a different list of core countries, compiled over 28 years of studying the world economy.
List of Core Countries (Babones, 2005):
What's more, the authors of a ResearchGate article titled "Driver Countries in Global Banking Network," which examined international banking behaviors from 1977 to 2018 identified yet another set of core countries (see table below). Each of these interpretations is correct in its individual context.
The definition of core countries and periphery countries
Core countries are so called because they serve as the core of the world's political and economic systems. As such, they possess significant leverage over periphery and semi-periphery countries regarding the global economy, politics, and the military. Great Britain is an excellent example of a core country, as seen in the British Commonwealth.
While periphery countries depend upon core countries for economic interaction and growth, core countries generally enjoy greater benefits from the relationship. Core countries' positions of relative power enable them to dictate more favorable trade terms, which tends to result in the core countries getting the better end of any economic deals.
Core country status is not perpetual. Of the many countries throughout history which have risen to become core countries, some have retained their "core" position and others have fallen back to the periphery. More powerful countries are typically the ones that hang onto their position of core influence, but still-developing countries that have become core nations more recently (as well as countries at war) have a greater chance of dropping back into the periphery.