Global Patterns of Economic Development


This page provides resources and activities on economic development. In addition to the interesting starter on night satellite images it goes on to explore different representations of economic development through the north south divide and Hans Rosling's informative visualization of statistics covering the last 200 years. There is an extensive Top Trump set of countries which students can use to familiarize themselves with economic development and then for classifying countries. There is a critical question running through the lesson based on how important this classification is today given uneven development is present at all scales, especially within countries.

Enquiry Question

How do we classify countries and regions in terms of economic development?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Lesson Objectives:

  • To describe the global pattern of economic development
  • To classify countries and regions into different stages of economic development

Teacher Notes:

Starter Activity_ What do we know already? - students should attempt to identify the meaning of the abbreviations in the slideshow.

1. Photographs Analysis_Processes and Synthesis_Students should then look at the slideshow of satellite photos taken at night and discuss what they show us about development

2. The North South Divide_Synthesis_Show the students the North South Divide map and they should then discuss what factors make it obsolete. In general it represents a view of the world in the 1960s. What has changed?

3. Video Comprehensions_Processes_Show the Gapminder video on myths relating to economic development and students should complete the worksheet provided

4. Thinking Skills_Development Indicators_Synthesis_Distribute the set of country Top Trumps. In this game the students share the cards and then choose a development indicator that they think scores highest. Each student compares their own card and the student with the better indicator wins the cards

5. Classifying Countries_Processes_Students should then classify the countries under the following headings

  • low-income countries
  • middle-income countries and emerging economies
  • high-income countries   

Finish the activity with a discussion on the difficulty of doing activity 2

6. Graph Analysis_Income Inequality_Processes_Present the two graphs and students should answer the questions on income inequality

Starter Activity_ Classifying Country's Economic Development

Attempt to identify the meaning of the following abbreviations that classify countries' state of economic development

Starter Activity_Processes and Synthesis_The World at Night

Study the following gallery and suggest what the images tell us about the patterns of global economic development

What other factors might explain the pattern?

Teacher Comments:

Night satellite images tell us about levels of economic development and infrastructure and urban centers. A lack of light suggests a lack of urban infrastructure and economic development. The majority of interior Africa is in darkness. Europe is ablaze with light, especially Italy in the foreground. There is a clear divide between East and West USA and at the global scale the developed north versus the less developed south seems apparent.

Study the following map of the North South Divide and the Brandt Line. What factors would you suggest make the North South Divide map irrelevant today?

Teacher Comments:

It doesn't take into account the emerging economies, in particular those economies in East Asia which have rapidly developed in the 40 years. It doesn't take into account the huge regional variations that exist. It reflects a 1960's picture of the world and doesn't capture in anyway the interconnectedness that now exists in the global economy.

To access the remainder of the activities for this lesson click here

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.