A developed country is defined as a sovereign state that has a developed economy and technologically advanced infrastructure when compared to other nations. Several factors that determine whether or not a country is developed, such as the Human Development Index, political stability, gross domestic product (GDP), industrialization and freedom.
The Human Development Index was developed by the United Nations to measure human development in a country. HDI is quantified by looking at a country’s human development such as education, health and life expectancy. HDI is set on a scale from 0 to 1 and most developed countries have a score above .80.
Developed countries have post-industrial economies with service sectors contributing more to the nation than the industrial sector. Because there are so many factors to consider, actually defining what countries are developed can be a challenge.
While Mexico is not considered to be developed countries based on their HDI rankings, some organizations consider the country to be developed. Mexico has a .767 HDI ranking. While the country is plagued by poverty, lack of quality health care, and limited access to clean water, it is considered to be one of the most advanced developing countries in the world.
A member of the EU, OECD, and G-20, Turkey has an HDI of .807 according to the UN, making it a developed country. The CIA World Factbook also classifieds Turkey as develop, while some organizations such as Dow Jones and FTSE classify Turkey as developing. This is likely because Turkey has a slightly high infant mortality rate for developed countries of 12 per 1,000 and the country’s life expectancy is 75. The World Bank classifies Turkey as an upper-middle income country in terms of its per capita GDP.
Russia is not currently classified as a developed country although the UN gave it an HDI of .824 in 2018. While Russia was once a world superpower, its economy collapsed after the fall of the Soviet Union and poverty became widespread and living standards are low. Russia’s HDI ranking is .79, just below the threshold.
Chile is the only country in Latin America that is recognized as a developed country. Chile has an HDI ranking of .847. While Chile’s GDP, life expectancy and infant mortality rate are not at the levels of other developed countries, they are still qualifying factors and the large improvements on the country’s economy and quality within a short period sare promising for Chile’s future.
According to its HDI ranking, Singapore is considered to be a developed country and has the ninth highest HDI ranking of .93. Singapore, however, is considered to be a developing country according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), despite having one of the world’s most competitive economies and is a high-income country.
With an HDI ranking of .915, Japan is a developed country. Japan has an average life expectancy of 83.9 years, one of the highest in the world, and the third-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Japan also has a high life expectancy of 83.98.
While some organizations disagree, South Korea is considered to be a developed country. South Korea’s HDI is .89 and the country has a strong per capita GDP, high life expectancy, and has widespread access to health care and higher education.
The United Nations Development Report 2019 Statistical Update ranks each country in the world based on its HDI ranking. The following list is the top 10 countries on that list:
- Hong Kong, China
- The Netherlands
According to the UN Development Report, Norway is the most developed nation in the world. Norway has an HDI of 0.954 making it a “very high development” country. Norway has a high life expectancy of 82.3 years. Norway is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with an average gross salary of $5,166 per month per person. Additionally, the per capita GDP is expected to hit US$93,000 by the end of 2020. Norway’s economy is boosted by its petroleum and natural gas exports, being the third-largest exporter of natural gas in the world. Additionally, the majority of Norway’s workers are employed in the services sector instead of agriculture or manufacturing. The economy is controlled by the government through regulation and enterprises are state-owned and funded.
The second most-developed country in the world is Switzerland with an HDI of .0946. Switzerland’s life expectancy is even higher than Norway’s at 83.6 years. Additionally, Switzerland has one of the most competitive economies in the world with a highly developed service sector and the second-highest GDP per capita in the world of US$82,504.32 (December 2018). According to a report from KPMG, Switzerland scored highly for infrastructure, institutions, and openness and had the overall strongest growth outlook.
With an HDI of 0.942, Ireland is the third-most developed country. Ireland moved up in the UN’s rankings faster than any other country in the last five years. Life expectancy for women is 83.6 years and for men is 79.7 years. Additionally, the average number of years spent in schooling is 18.8 years, higher than both Norway and Switzerland. Ireland’s economy is outperforming most other European countries with impressive, almost-full employment and rising wages. In recent years, Ireland has seen an 8% decrease in income inequality and has been doing well to improve gender equality. The country’s GDP per capita is also impressive at US$80,264.
Germany ranks fourth for the most developed countries. Germany’s HDI is 0.939, tied with Hong Kong. Germany’s high HDI is driven by its high quality of life and a strong economy, which is the strongest in Europe and the fourth-largest in the world. In terms of quality of life, German residents have universal health care coverage and Germany is known for exporting high-quality automobiles, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and machinery from companies such as Volkswagen, Siemens AG, and Bayer AG.
5. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong is also the fourth-most developed country in the world with the same HDI as Germany of 0.939. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, meaning that Hong Kong exercises a high degree of autonomy and has executive, legislative, and independent judicial power. While Hong Kong is technically part of China, a developing country, Hong Kong’s economy is a highly developed, free-market economy. Hong Kong’s economy is known as an international financial hub and business center and is characterized by free trade, less government interference, and low tax rates. Hong Kong has a life expectancy of 84.7 years, the highest of any country analyzed. In December 2019, Hong Kong’s per capita GDP was US$48,760.89.
Australia’s HDI is 0.938, making it the sixth-most developed country in the world. Australia’s life expectancy at birth is 83.3 years and the infant mortality rate is 3 per 1,000 births, one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Australia also boasts high literacy rates and quality healthcare for most of its citizens. When it comes to the economy, Australia has a GDP of A$1.89 trillion (US$1.14 trillion). The economy is dominated by the service sector, comprising about 63% of its GDP and employing about 79% of its workforce. Australia is also part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), G20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECC), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Iceland is tied with Australia as the sixth-most developed country with an HDI of 0.938. Like other Nordic countries, Iceland has a mixed economy that is mainly well developed and capitalist but also supports a welfare state, providing universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. Iceland stands out among other countries for its commitment to support underdeveloped countries and using its expertise in renewable energy, land restoration, and gender equality for aid programs. Additionally, Iceland also ranked on the Global Peace Index for 2019 as the most peaceful and safest country in the world. Iceland ranks high for its economy, social stability, and equality among its people.
With an HDI of 0.937, Sweden is the eighth-most developed country in the world. The average Swede has a life expectancy of 82.7 years and about 18.8 years of schooling. Sweden is known for its high quality of life, with low unemployment and poverty rates and free access to health care for all of its citizens. Sweden’s economy is diverse and highly competitive that is export-oriented and typically maintains a trade surplus. Its main exports are vehicles and machines, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and minerals. Sweden is also one of the easiest countries to trade and do business with.
Singapore is the ninth-most developed nation in the world and also one of the most peaceful. Singapore has a life expectancy of 83.5 years and 16.3 years of expected schooling. When it comes to the economy, Singapore’s is high-income and one of the world’s most competitive economies in the world. The city-state has one of the world’s highest GDP growth rate at 7.7% since gaining independence from Malaysia in 1965. Singapore experienced rapid industrialization in the 1960s, launching its development trajectory. Today, service and manufacturing are the two main sectors of Singapore’s strong economy.
The Netherlands finishes the top ten most developed countries list with an HDI of 0.933. Despite having the 65th-largest population in the world of about 17 million, the Netherlands still has the 17th-highest GDP. Additionally, the Netherlands is the eighth-largest exporter of goods in the world. Quality of life in the Netherlands is very high, with high rankings for education and healthy work-life balance and low rates of unemployment. The Netherlands has a life expectancy of 82.1 years and an expected 18 years of schooling for its citizens.
Below is a list of developed countries with their HDI ranking and population.