ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is the Brandt Line Irrelevant in the 21st Century?

Updated on May 26, 2016
The Brandt line
The Brandt line | Source

The Brandt line is a visual representation of the ‘north-south divide’, separating the relatively poor continents from the ‘rich North’, which includes parts of Oceania. The line was constructed with a focus on economic development, and has been criticised for both its overgeneralisation, and, more recently, its outdatedness, having been produced in the 1980s.

The line depicts the disparity between broad economic situations in the hemispheres; MEDCs are generally found in the northern hemisphere, whilst poorer nations are, assumedly, predominantly in the southern hemisphere, with continents such as Africa and South America being connotational of underdevelopment. This point in particular has lead to increased uncertainty in the Brandt line’s relevance in the 21st century, as nations previously viewed as less well off have since developed; Brazil, for example, is now classified as a ‘newly industrialised country’, having developed subsequent to the line’s introduction, as evidenced by a sustained spike in its automobile production from the late 1990s.

The Brandt line is useful to some extent, as it provides a simplistic and tangible depiction of global wealth distribution. It successfully categorises the eastern Arab nations as less developed, giving the social development factor of (gender) equality importance over their substantial wealth.

The Brandt line is criticised for generalising not only continents, but also countries. Within Brazil, there is a high rural-urban Gini coefficient, which means that some cities’ CBDs are on the same scale of affluence as many MEDCs. This shows Brazil to have a wealth equality problem, which indicates a low level of development, thereby supporting the Brandt line, which places Brazil in the lower half. However, the converse is true of countries such as the USA, which contains regions with high poverty rates, such as Detroit, where nearly 50% of people have salaries of less than $25,000. This inconsistency in considering regional wealth disparity is evidence for the irrelevance of the Brandt line. It is also criticised for separating all countries into two distinct groups, whereas in reality many countries must fall between ‘MEDC’ and ‘LEDC’. Furthermore, it tends to ignore non-economic factors; Tonga, for example, has a low murder rate, suggesting at least some level of social development.

In conclusion, the Brandt line has never been an accurate representation of development, as it overgeneralises regions on both a national and continental level. Its relevance is only decreasing with time, as previously undeveloped nations industrialise and become economically orientated, even overtaking nations that the Brandt line considers to be MEDCs.

How relevant do you think the Brandt line is today?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      3 years ago from TEXAS

      It's interesting, Tom Groves. I confess I was not aware of this imaginary divisional line, but now that I am, if anyone asks me my opinion about it, I can say, knowledgeably, "Why, yes, it is an interesting supposition, is it not, - as if people are so easily categorized!" Also I had occasion to look up MEDC and appreciate that! Good acronym. Thank you.

      I'm reminded of some theory I read about some time in the past, proposing that human development and history have been characterized by development of civilizations and powerful countries arising in the south where physical and climate conditions are easier for pursuing study and art, or are at least less limiting.

      But then, after developing lush civilizations, the rulers and people become soft and self-indulgent, so they succumb to more barbaric, ruthless and strong invaders from the north. Eventually, after the invaders conquer to become the rulers and citizens of those settlements, they, too, become entrenched in their easier life-styles, also becoming soft and susceptible to their own excesses and to being conquered by people further north who are still rangy and more virile. And so it goes . . . according to that theory.

      Thank you for following me! I shall check in to more of your hubs!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      I voted "slightly." People in think tanks get paid a lot of money to come up with these generalizations. Damn I wish I could get one of those jobs. I think this line provides a good general picture, but of course there are going to be exceptions within its boundaries. Great hub.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      3 years ago from Brazil

      I had never heard of this before I read this article.

      I live in Brazil and there is a huge divide of wealth and poverty. This however isn't in different states or parts of the country. I have seen a man with a donkey and cart collecting plastics for recycling passed by on the road by a new Range Rover. The gap here is very evident.

      Equally in the US, so many are living in poverty therefore the line isn't that accurate.

      Interesting though.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)