Existing classifications of developing countries have been based on - or dominated by - income per capita. Even those deemed to be 'alternatives' to the income classification include income per capita as a main component. This article proposes an alternative approach to classifying countries based on cluster analysis that allows us to identify the key development characteristics of each cluster of countries. We build five clusters of developing countries and consider changes over time since the late 1990s. We find that there is neither a simple 'linear representation of development levels' (from low- to high-development countries) nor a 'linear dynamic of development' (as if groups were 'immutable' and countries were just trying to accommodate themselves to the 'established' groups), which implies that the dominant international classification needs review. Instead our multidimensional and dynamic taxonomy offers a more nuanced understanding of the diversity of challenges of developing countries and their evolution over time.
- cluster analysis
- developing countries
- development classifications
- development studies
- income per capita classification