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Is the 'Developing World' Changing? A Dynamic and Multidimensional Taxonomy of Developing Countries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Sergio Tezanos Vázquez, Andy Sumner

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-874
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Issue number5
Published1 Nov 2016

King's Authors


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.

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