Brandt Line

What is the Brandt Line?

An imaginary line drawn up by Willy Brandt in 1980s to show the growing income inequality between countries above the line (the ‘richer North’) and countries below the line (the ‘poorer South’).

What are some of the commonalities among the two groups of countries?


  • Far from Equator
  • Higher HDI (Human Development Index)
  • Developed countries
  • Higher GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita (e.g. UK -$41000)
  • Lower birth rates (e.g. UK- 12 births/1000 people)
  • Higher life expectancy (e.g. UK- 81 years avg.)
  • Low infant mortality rate (e.g. UK- 5 deaths/1000 births)
  • High adult (>18 years old) literacy rate (e.g. UK – 99%)


  • Tends to be nearer to Equator
  • Lower HDI
  • Less developed countries/Developing countries
  • Lower GDP per capita (e.g. Kenya -$1245)
  • Higher birth rates (e.g. Kenya- 24 births/1000 people)
  • Lower life expectancy (e.g. Kenya- 61 years avg.)
  • High infant mortality rate (e.g. Kenya- 61 deaths/1000 births)
  • low adult literacy rate (e.g. Kenya – 87.4% (males))

Relevance of Brandt line in modern context:

As this line was drawn up in the 1980s, this theory is no longer very valid in modern day context as some of the world’s strongest economies (India, China and Singapore) lie below the Brandt line, in the area dubbed as the ‘Poor South’. Instead of this outdated line, new theories of classification, such as the Digital divide, are better suited to show the current level of development in countries. From the digital divide, observations about the stagnation of economies in Eastern Europe and booming of economies in Asia can be seen, unlike in the North-South divide. Some possible reasons for the Brandt line becoming obsolete is that the economic strength of the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were overestimated. In addition, the Brandt line failed to take note of the NICs (Newly Industrialised Countries of the 1980s that had booming economies post-1980s.

Core-Periphery Theory (Introduction)

Instead of dissecting the globe into developed and less developed countries, the Core-Periphery theory is designed to take into account globalisation and better express the relationships between developed and less developed countries as well as developing countries. More information will be on a separate blog post.





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