A developed country, or high-income country, is a sovereign state that has a high quality of life, developed economy, and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialized nations. Most commonly, the criteria for evaluating the degree of economic development are the gross domestic product (GDP), gross national product (GNP), the per capita income, level of industrialization, amount of widespread infrastructure and general standard of living. Which criteria are to be used and which countries can be classified as being developed are subjects of debate. Different definitions of developed countries are provided by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; moreover, HDI ranking is used to reflect the composite index of life expectancy, education, and income per capita. Another commonly used measure of a developed country is the threshold of GDP (PPP) per capita of at least US$22,000. In 2023, 40 countries fit all four criteria, while an additional 15 countries fit three out of four.
Developed countries have generally more advanced post-industrial economies, meaning the service sector provides more wealth than the industrial sector. They are contrasted with developing countries, which are in the process of industrialisation or are pre-industrial and almost entirely agrarian, some of which might fall into the category of Least Developed Countries. As of 2023[update], advanced economies comprise 57.3% of global GDP based on nominal values and 41.1% of global GDP based on purchasing-power parity (PPP) according to the IMF.
Definition and criteria
Economic criteria have tended to dominate discussions. One such criterion is the income per capita; countries with the high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita would thus be described as developed countries. Another economic criterion is industrialisation; countries in which the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry dominate would thus be described as developed. More recently, another measure, the Human Development Index (HDI), which combines an economic measure, national income, with other measures, indices for life expectancy and education has become prominent. This criterion would define developed countries as those with a very high (HDI) rating. The index, however, does not take into account several factors, such as the net wealth per capita or the relative quality of goods in a country. This situation tends to lower the ranking of some of the most advanced countries, such as the G7 members and others.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division:
And it notes that:
The designations "developed" and "developing" are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.
Nevertheless, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development considers that this categorization can continue to be applied:
The developed economies broadly comprise Northern America and Europe, Israel, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Terms linked to the concept developed country include "advanced country", "industrialized country", "more developed country" (MDC), "more economically developed country" (MEDC), "Global North country", "first world country", and "post-industrial country". The term industrialized country may be somewhat ambiguous, as industrialisation is an ongoing process that is hard to define. The first industrialized country was the United Kingdom, followed by Belgium. Later it spread further to Germany, United States, France and other Western European countries. According to some economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, however, the current divide between the developed and developing world is largely a phenomenon of the 20th century.
Mathis Wackernagel calls the binary labeling of countries as "neither descriptive nor explanatory. It is merely a thoughtless and destructive endorsement of GDP fetish. In reality, there are not two types of countries, but over 200 countries, all faced with the same laws of nature, yet each with unique features."
A 2021 analysis proposes the term emerged to describe markets, economies, or countries that have graduated from emerging market status, but have not yet reached the level equivalent to developed countries. Multinational corporations from these emerging markets present unique patterns of overseas expansion and knowledge acquisition from foreign countries.
Economy lists by various criteria
Human Development Index (HDI)
The UN HDI is a statistical measure that gauges an economy's level of human development. While there is a strong correlation between having a high HDI score and being a prosperous economy, the UN points out that the HDI accounts for more than income or productivity. Unlike GDP per capita or per capita income, the HDI takes into account how income is turned "into education and health opportunities and therefore into higher levels of human development."
The following countries ranked from 1 to 66 in the year 2021 are considered to be of "very high human development":
|2021 data (2022 report)||Change since 2015||2021 data (2022 report)||Average annual growth (2010–2021)|
|26||(9)||United Arab Emirates||0.911||0.80%|
|44||NA[Note 1]||San Marino||0.853||NA[Note 1]|
|57||(2)||Trinidad and Tobago||0.810||0.23%|
Some institutions have produced lists of developed countries: the UN (list shown above), the CIA, and some providers of stock market indices (the FTSE Group, MSCI, S&P, Dow Jones, STOXX, etc.). The latter is not included here because its association of developed countries with countries with both high incomes and developed markets is not deemed as directly relevant.[why?][Note 2]
However, many other institutions have created more general lists referred to when discussing developed countries. For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identifies 39 "advanced economies". The OECD's 37 members are known as the "developed countries club". The World Bank identifies 81 "high income countries". Other standards, such as the 30-50 Club (GDP per capita over $30,000 and population over 50 million) have been developed to categorize highly developed and influential countries.
World Bank high-income economies
According to the World Bank the following 83 countries and territories are classified as "high-income economies". As of the 2024 fiscal year, high-income economies are those that had a GNI per capita of $13,845 or more in 2022.
37 countries and territories in Europe:
- / Channel Islands
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- Isle of Man
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
22 countries and territories in the Americas:
15 countries and territories in Asia:
eight countries and territories in Oceania:
one country in Africa:
eight former high-income economies:
* Between 1994 and 2009, as a part of the Netherlands Antilles.
High-income OECD members
26 countries in Europe:
three countries in the Americas:
three countries in Asia:
two countries in Oceania:
Development Assistance Committee members
There are 29 OECD member countries and the European Union—in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of the world's major donor countries that discusses issues surrounding development aid and poverty reduction in developing countries. The following OECD member countries are DAC members:
23 countries in Europe:
two countries in the Americas:
two countries in Asia:
two countries in Oceania:
IMF advanced economies
According to the International Monetary Fund, 41 countries and territories are officially listed as "advanced economies", with the addition of 7 microstates and dependencies modified by the CIA which were omitted from the IMF version:
29 countries and dependencies in Europe classified by the IMF, 6 others given by the CIA:
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
seven countries and territories in Asia:
three countries and territories in the Americas classified by the IMF, one territory given by the CIA :
two countries in Oceania:
d The CIA has modified an older version of the IMF's list of 38 Advanced Economies, noting that the IMF's Advanced Economies list "would presumably also cover the following nine smaller countries of Andorra, Bermuda, Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Holy See, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and San Marino[...]". San Marino (2012) and Andorra (2021) were later included in the IMF's list.
Paris Club members
There are 22 permanent members in the Paris Club (French: Club de Paris), a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to find coordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries.
15 countries in Europe:
three countries in the Americas:
three countries in Asia:
one country in Oceania:
Comparative table (2023)
Comparative table of countries with a "very high" human development (0.800 or higher), according to UNDP; "advanced" economies, according to the IMF; "high income" economies, according to the World Bank; and income per capita (purchasing power parity) higher than $25,000, according to the IMF.
|Countries||HDI||IMF||WB||Per capita PPP 2023|
|Croatia||Yes since 2007||Yes since 2023||Yes since 2017||Yes since 2016|
|San Marino||Yes since 2021||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2000||Yes before 2004|
|Andorra||Yes since 2003||Yes since 2020||Yes since 1990||Yes before 2010|
|Latvia||Yes since 2005||Yes since 2014||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2016|
|Lithuania||Yes since 2005||Yes since 2015||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2013|
|Greece||Yes since 2001||Yes since 1989||Yes since 1996||Yes since 2013|
|Estonia||Yes since 2003||Yes since 2011||Yes since 2006||Yes since 2012|
|Slovakia||Yes since 2006||Yes since 2009||Yes since 2007||Yes since 2011|
|Czech Republic||Yes since 2001||Yes since 2009||Yes since 2006||Yes since 2006|
|Malta||Yes since 2003||Yes since 2008||Yes since 2002||Yes since 2007|
|Liechtenstein||Yes since 2000||Yes since 2008||Yes since 1990||Yes since 1987|
|Monaco||Yes before 1990||Yes since 2008||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1987|
|Slovenia||Yes since 1998||Yes since 2007||Yes since 1997||Yes since 2006|
|Portugal||Yes since 2005||Yes since 1989||Yes since 1994||Yes since 2007|
|Israel||Yes since 1991||Yes since 1997||Yes since 1987||Yes since 2006|
|South Korea||Yes since 1999||Yes since 1997||Yes since 2001||Yes since 2006|
|New Zealand||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 2003|
|Cyprus||Yes since 2001||Yes since 2001||Yes since 1988||Yes since 2002|
|Taiwan||N/A[Note 4]||Yes since 1997||Yes since 1987||Yes since 2002|
|Spain||Yes since 1995||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 2001|
|Singapore||Yes since 1999||Yes since 1997||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1991|
|Finland||Yes since 1994||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1999|
|United Kingdom||Yes since 1992||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1999|
|Ireland||Yes since 1996||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1998|
|Iceland||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1998|
|Sweden||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1998|
|France||Yes since 1993||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1998|
|Australia||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1997|
|Belgium||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1997|
|Canada||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1997|
|Italy||Yes since 1995||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1996|
|Austria||Yes since 1992||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1996|
|Germany||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1996|
|Japan||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1996|
|Netherlands||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1995|
|Denmark||Yes since 1991||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1994|
|Luxembourg||Yes since 1992||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1986|
|United States||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1992|
|Norway||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1988|
|Switzerland||Yes before 1990||Yes since 1945||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1986|
|Countries||HDI||IMF||WB||per capita PPP 2023|
|Uruguay||Yes since 2014||No||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2022|
|Chile||Yes since 2007||No||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2021|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Yes since 2021||No||Yes since 2006||Yes since 2006|
|Romania||Yes since 2013||No||Yes since 2021||Yes since 2017|
|Panama||Yes since 2019||No||Yes since 2021||Yes since 2015|
|Bahamas||Yes since 2016||No||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1999|
|Hungary||Yes since 2005||No||Yes since 2014||Yes since 2014|
|Poland||Yes since 2003||No||Yes since 2009||Yes since 2014|
|Kuwait||Yes since 2014||No||Yes since 1987||Yes since 1992|
|Bahrain||Yes since 2012||No||Yes since 2001||Yes since 1983|
|Oman||Yes since 2012||No||Yes since 2007||Yes since 1990|
|Saudi Arabia||Yes since 2010||No||Yes since 2004||Yes before 1980|
|United Arab Emirates||Yes since 2004||No||Yes since 1987||Yes before 1980|
|Brunei||Yes since 1999||No||Yes since 1990||Yes before 1985|
|Qatar||Yes since 1996||No||Yes since 1987||Yes before 1980|
|Countries||HDI||IMF||WB||per capita PPP 2023|
|Serbia||Yes since 2019||No||No||Yes since 2023|
|Costa Rica||Yes since 2019||No||No||Yes since 2022|
|Mauritius||Yes since 2019||No||No||Yes since 2022|
|Argentina||Yes since 2006||No||No||Yes since 2022|
|Montenegro||Yes since 2013||No||No||Yes since 2022|
|Bulgaria||Yes since 2015||No||No||Yes since 2021|
|Kazakhstan||Yes since 2015||No||No||Yes since 2018|
|Malaysia||Yes since 2016||No||No||Yes since 2017|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||No||No||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2017|
|Russia||Yes since 2013||No||No||Yes since 2017|
|Seychelles||No||No||Yes since 2014||Yes since 2016|
|Turkey||Yes since 2015||No||No||Yes since 2015|
|Barbados||No||No||Yes since 2006||No|
|Dominican Republic||No||No||No||Yes since 2023|
|Guyana||No||No||Yes since 2022||Yes since 2022|
|Thailand||Yes since 2021||No||No||No|
|Maldives||No||No||No||Yes since 2021|
|Georgia||Yes since 2019||No||No||No|
|Nauru||No data||No||Yes since 2019||No|
|Antigua and Barbuda||No||No||Yes since 2012||Yes since 2023|
|Belarus||Yes since 2012||No||No||No|
- HDI not available before 2018 in latest report
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- The HDI annual report compiled by the UNDP does not include Taiwan because it is no longer a UN member state, and is neither included as part of the People's Republic of China by the UNDP when calculating data for China. Taiwan's Statistical Bureau calculated its HDI to be 0.926 based on UNDP's 2010 methodology, which would place Taiwan well within the group of "Very high human development" at 19th globally in 2021 within the 2022 UNDP report.
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- Quotations related to Developed country at Wikiquote
- IMF (advanced economies)
- The World Factbook Archived 9 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine (developed countries)
- United Nations Statistics Division (definition)
- List of countries, United Nations Statistics Division (developed regions)
- World Bank (high-income economies)