A World Divided by Wealth

DURING the second half of the 20th century, the world was embroiled in a Cold War and divided politically into three parts. The world of Communism, chiefly embodied in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the world of non-Communist nations, led by the United States, stared at one another across an invisible Iron Curtain. Nations not aligned with either side formed the so-called Third World.

The term “Third World” later came to be viewed as a derogatory description, however, and was replaced with “underdeveloped nations.” With time, this too took on negative connotations, for which reason economists began using the term “developing nations.” Thus the terminology moved away from emphasizing political differences and more toward pointing up economic ones.

Now in the 21st century, a world divided into the above-mentioned three political parts no longer exists. In an economic and industrial sense, however, the differences between developed and developing nations are still a reality. Tourists from affluent lands are rubbing shoulders with economically less fortunate individuals struggling to put food on their table.

Therefore, the question is relevant: Is the world destined to remain economically divided, or can those who have, the wealthy, and those who have not, the poor, achieve parity by enjoying a common standard of living?

[Picture Credit Line on page 3]

© Qilai Shen/Panos Pictures