23 Analytical Essay Topics on Political and Economic Development in the Third World

Topics and ideas
Posted on March 17, 2016

If your instructor had issued an assignment to do an analytical essay on political and economic development in the third world, you need to ensure that it has ample facts to support your arguments. Here are 23 you can use in your upcoming essay to secure a good grade.

  1. Conventional wisdom dictates that improved economic conditions help to lower crime. However, this does not apply to international terrorism. According to the economist, Alan Kruger, “There is little reason for optimism that a reduction in poverty or increase in educational attainment will lead to a meaningful reduction in the amount of international terrorism.”
  2. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 75% of unemployed people worldwide lack unemployment insurance. Developed countries can combat this by investing in labor-intensive programs which provide guaranteed employment for a specific period in the year. Examples of such infrastructure projects include: irrigation systems, wells, health centers, schools, and dams.
  3. High levels of public debt, unemployment and job insecurity are major problems that plague the third world. Under these conditions, future economic development seems grim. Political stability also remains a distant dream. Developing human capital needs to be the major goal of third world countries.
  4. Most developing countries have a thriving underground economy. Illicit trade and drug use is rampant there, negatively affecting the economy of the country. Transnational crime needs to be curbed in order to ensure the economic stability of the third world.
  5. Victims of poverty are more vulnerable to environmental changes. The destruction of natural resources such as water supplies and forests further degrades the quality of life for poor people. On the other hand, the conservation of forests will lead to a more stable water supply system and less soil erosion. As most of the world’s poor rely on agricultural activities for sustenance, natural resources are a matter of life and death.
  6. Illicit drug trade has a devastating effect on public health. Almost a quarter of all AIDS/HIV cases in China, Central Asia and Russia can be traced to IV drug use. Since drug trade crosses international boundaries, it is a problem that needs to be tackled before it expands on a global scale.
  7. Education levels is a major factor in the Human Development Index and improving it should be the focus of developing countries. However, improving education in developing countries benefits the economy more than simply improving literacy. Without the former, people may view themselves as outsiders in the political process. As a result, they have less faith in their fellow countrymen and suffer from poor health.
  8. Corruption is a major problem in underdeveloped countries, especially since countermeasures are hindered with complex obstacles. The World Bank has declared corruption as “Public Enemy Number One”.
  9. Access to healthcare is a major issue for the poorest countries of the world. A shocking example is that of Haiti, which has less than 1% of the total professional nurses required per person as compared to the US.
  10. The presence of significant red tape in developing countries is an obstacle in small business growth. Reducing the number of regulations can help this situation. A World Bank report showed that the number of new businesses rose by 50% in Ethiopia when the government made the regulatory process more efficient.
  11. Debt repayments are a major burden on third world nations. 39 of the poorest countries in the developing world have been granted full or partial debt write-offs by foreign governments or international financial institutions.
  12. Developing countries have highly restrictive trade policies in place. This has a negative effect on their balance of trade and balance of payments, eventually causing a slowdown in economic growth rates.
  13. A significant knowledge gap exists between the developing world and other nations. Even the dissemination of information via mass media has not helped bridge the knowledge gap.
  14. Third world nations have high levels of government corruption and weakened state institutions. Some researchers claim that such states are more likely to become failed and will be under greater threat of terrorism.
  15. The Fragile State Index is used to rank the strength of governance in major countries. Currently, the top three most fragile states are all third world nations. South Sudan is the most fragile, followed by Somalia, and the Central African Republic.
  16. Third world populations suffer from malnutrition. This leads to the underdevelopment of their bodies and minds. Studies show that over 200 million children under five years of age fail to reach their full development potential.
  17. Access to healthcare in the third world can be improved by using Mobile Health Units. These are very cost-effective, with the average cost per patient around $1.26. Such units can help prevent malaria and provide water sanitation services.
  18. Money markets in third world countries are not very sophisticated. Most third world countries have money markets which are poorly integrated, quite narrow, and in some cases virtually nonexistent.
  19. Access to better education and healthcare will speed up economic and social progress in underdeveloped nations.
  20. Over 1.2 million people die each year due to Malaria. The majority of the victims are very young children in Africa. The factors contributing to this high level of infection are: water shortages, poor waste disposal systems, inadequate housing, and poorly designed water and irrigation systems.
  21. Pollution kills 800,000 people annually. Urban areas in developing nations have high pollution levels, mainly caused by vehicles, industrial waste and energy production.
  22. Each year about 355,000 people die from unintentional poisoning. About two-thirds of these deaths occur in third world countries. The lack of knowledge about pesticides and toxic chemicals is often to blame for the majority of these cases.
  23. Climate change will prove to be devastating for underdeveloped countries. People living in the coastal areas will be most vulnerable to extreme weather events and sea level rises caused by rising temperatures.

These facts should give you a good general idea of political and economic development in the third world. You may continue learning about it by reading our instructions on writing an analytical essay on the subject as well our 20 topics list and 1 sample essay.


  1. McMichael, Philip. Development and Social Change. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2012. Print.
  2. Terror vs. the Third World. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/1986/05/11/opinion/terror-vs-the-third-world.html
  3. Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova, “Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 17 (Fall 2003):119-44
  4. Yumusak, I., Bilen, M., & Ates, H. (2013). The Impacts of Gender Inequality in Education on Economic Growth in Turkey. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 103, 1093-1103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.437
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  7. Acemoglu, D. (2009) Introduction to Modern Economic Growth Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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  9. The Guardian,. (2013). Curbing deforestation in the developing world. Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/crown-agents-partner-zone/curbing-deforestation-in-the-developing-world
  10. Andreas, S. (2016). Education in an Uncertain World | Human Development Reports.Hdr.undp.org. Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/education-uncertain-world
  11. Stasavage, David and Daubrée, “Determinants of Customs Fraud and Corruption: Evidence from Two African Countries”, Technical Paper No 138, OECD Development Centre, August 1998.
  12. Hors, Irène, Fighting Corruption in Developing Countries and Emerging Economies: the Role of the Private Sector, study by the OECD Development Centre, to be published.
  13. Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative . International Monetary Fund. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  14. Shah, Anup (July 2007). “Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty.”. Global Issues. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  15. Edwards, S. “Trade Orientation, Distortions and Growth In Developing Countries.” (n.d.): n. pag. 1-37
  16. Harrison, Ann. “Openness and Growth: A Time-series, Cross-country Analysis for Developing Countries.” Journal of Development Economics 48.2 (1996): 419-47. Web.
  17. Gaziano, C. (1983). “The knowledge gap: An analytical review of media effects”. Communication Research 10 (4): 447–486.
  18. Gaziano, C. (1997). “Forecast 2000: Widening knowledge gaps”. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 74 (2): 237–264.
  19. James A. Piazza,Incubators of Terror: Do Failed and Failing States Promote Transnational Terrorism? International Studies Quarterly, 2008, 3: 469-488, p.470
  20. Fragile States Index FAQ” Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  21. “The Fund for Peace” Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  22. Grantham-McGregor, Sally et al., the International Child Development Steering Group. “Developmental Potential in the First 5 Years for Children in Developing Countries.” Lancet 369.9555 (2007): 60–70. PMC. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.
  23. Walsh, J., and K. Warren. “Control of Infectious Disease in Developing Countries.” New England Journal of Medicine 304.1 (1981): n. pag. 967-974
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  25. Taylor, LH, Latham, SM & Woolhouse, ME. Risk factors for human disease emergence. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2001; 356 (1411): 983-9.
  26. The World health report 2002 – reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002.
  27. Goldman, L, Tran, N. Toxics and poverty: the impact of toxic substances on the poor in developing countries. Washington, DC, The World Bank, 2002.
  28. FAO/UNEP/WHO. Childhood pesticide poisoning: information for advocacy and action. Geneva, United Nations Environment Programme, 2004.
  29. Tichenor, P.J., Donohue, G.A. and Olien, C.N. (1970). Mass Media Flow and Differential Growth in Knowledge, Public Opinion Quarterly 34: Colombia University Press.
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