In order to compare and contrast two things, we must first have a definition as to what they are. The concept of first, second and third world countries came about during The Cold War. Originally, the capitalist and NATO countries, as well as their allies, were considered first world countries; the communist countries and the Soviet Union, along with their allies, were considered second world countries; those countries associated with neither were considered third world countries. After the fall of the Soviet Union, these terms took on a much different meaning.
Currently, whether a country is classified as a first or third world country is determined by how technologically and economically advanced they are. Highly developed countries are considered first world countries while undeveloped countries are considered third world countries. With some exceptions to this rule, most of Africa, Latin America, and Asia are defined as third world countries while the first world countries consist mainly most of Europe, the former British Empire (USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand,) and Japan. These two very different types of countries have many contrasting qualities as well as similar ones.
A few examples that can be compared and contrasted are quality of life, culture and priorities, and country-wide depression levels. If you ever visit a third world country, it is no secret that what you will see can very well be described as poverty. The people who live there struggle to make ends meet, put clothes on their back, etc. Every day they worry whether or not there will be enough food to eat or if there will be anything at all. In first world countries, we do have our homeless and our poverty, yet the vast majority is considered “middle class. In context, this means that yes, there are economic struggles, but typically when someone from a first world country uses the phrase, “our cupboards are bare and there is nothing to eat in the house,” it would still look like a banquet to someone from a third world country. It also probably contains more food in one pantry than he/she would see in their home in one year. Even with some first world people unfortunately going hungry and homeless, one thing that nobody in a wealthy country ever has to go without is clean water. There are public drinking fountains and faucets almost everywhere you go apart from the wilderness.
The bottled water industry makes millions every year off of us while even just clean and bacteria-free water is a treasure to the people of a third world country. There are almost one billion people in the world who do not have access to clean drinking water and nearly four thousand children die each day due to lack of clean water and sanitation. In addition, you may think that you don’t have the best clothing, the best electronics, car, etc. With this in mind, a single pair of used shoes can be considered a Godsend to a citizen of a third world country, regardless of what they look like or even if they fit.
Even with their lack of food and clean water, if you visit a third world family’s home, you will likely be welcomed with warm hospitality, their best food, and selflessness. This is their culture. They would rather starve than let a kind stranger go without, even though they have less than the bare necessities to begin with. In our culture, yes we are taught to help and to share, but it is different. With exceptions, most people from a first world country would not give up anything and everything to help someone we know, let alone a stranger.
It is often taught to us that we must take care of ourselves before we reach out to others. People in first world countries are told from a young age how important education is; they are told that they must go to college if they want to get a good job. They grow up with the notion that we must have the best of things if they want to be successful in life. It is not out of the ordinary to see a child throwing a temper-tantrum in a department store because his parent would not buy a toy that he wanted; he will also say that he needs the toy.
Of course, logically, the toy is not a necessity, but our society is taught to think that the things we want are the things that we need and that if we aren’t able to obtain them, we should be very distraught. In contrast, it is very common that a child as young as eight supports his entire family in a poverty-stricken third world country. The latter child will likely never attend school a day in his life, let alone college. His concerns include putting food on the table for his family, not playing with toys, even if there were any.
With all of this considered, depression rates are shockingly higher in first world countries than they are in third world countries. At first, this seems almost like it could be a mistake; how could a country that has everything and more have higher depression rates than a country with next to nothing? Think about it; if we are taught that not being able to obtain the things that we want is an awful thing, of course people are going to be more upset about it. When someone considers themselves to be a failure in first world countries, it often has to do with how they don’t think they make enough money and become very depressed over this fact.
However, in third world countries, every small joy is celebrated. Giving a poverty stricken mother food for her children will likely bring tears to her eyes and she will never forget your face or your kindness; all small things are appreciated. When one celebrates the little things, there is inevitably a lot more to be happy about, which is something we constantly forget in first world countries when almost everything is at our fingertips. Overall, the people of the world are all human. By this I mean that all people, regardless of their geographical location, have dreams, thoughts, emotions, worries, etc.
The difference is that these dreams, thoughts, and worries are very different depending on which part of the world they are from. Life is, for the most part, much more convenient for those in highly developed countries. On the other hand, is it so bold to say that the majority of people living in third world countries experience a more intense level of and more frequent happiness? What is arguably true is that we can all learn a lot from each other. It could definitely be very beneficial for all to develop a mutualistic relationship between first and third world countries.