The Three World Model

Why is there no Second World?

The original question was: why do we have a First World and a Third World, but no Second World? As I researched it, I came to learn more about the “three world model.”

In its original definition, the three worlds (in order) were:

  1. Everyone who sided with the United States during the Cold War against communism
  2. The communist bloc – Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries
  3. Everyone else

This is was modeled after the “three estate model” of France:

  1. The nobility
  2. The church
  3. Everyone else

(The “fourth estate” is often used to refer to the press and media.)

A French demographer correlated the three worlds to the three estates. His reasoning is that the first two worlds had attained some level of status, and every country in the “third world” was trying to do the same, like the French commoners:

…because at the end, this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World, like the Third Estate, wants also, to become something

So, “third” in this context is kind of like “third wheel” – the countries not involved in the Cold War.

Over the years, the Third World became used to refer to nations that had yet to attain the status of the United States, Russia, and their allies.

Wikipedia sums it up like this:

Due to the complex history of evolving meanings and contexts, there is no clear or agreed-upon definition of the Third World. Some countries in the Communist Bloc, such as Cuba, were often regarded as “Third World”. Because many Third World countries were economically poor and non-industrialized, it became a stereotype to refer to developing countries as “third world countries”…

Second World is a term that was never as popular as the other two, though it apparently had some usage during the Cold War.

Second World countries are countries that are more stable and more developed than Third World countries which exist in parts of Africa, South and Central America and south Asia, but less stable and less developed than First World countries such as Norway. Developing countries are countries that are less industrialized and have lower per capita income levels.

Second World countries are countries that are more stable and more developed than Third World countries which exist in parts of Africa, South and Central America and south Asia, but less stable and less developed than First World countries such as Norway. Developing countries are countries that are less industrialized and have lower per capita income levels.

Why I Looked It Up

I was a leader on a high school missions trip to the Dominican Republic. At one point, there was a discussion about whether the country was a “third world nation” or not. No one could agree.

By the definition above, I think you could call the DR a second world nation, if the term is still in use.

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