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Bai Jiawei


A developed country is not a place where the poor

have cars. Its where the rich use public transportation.
Petro Gustavo, Mayor of Bogota, Columbia
A developed country refers to a sovereign state that has a highly
developed economy and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other
less industrialized nations, evaluated using indicators such as GDP, income
equality and general standard of living. I believe that the statement by Mr
Gustavo is valid and holds ground, as the situation described signifies a welldeveloped infrastructure in the nation, such as the public transport network as
well as environmental conditions. Furthermore, it demonstrates an advanced
mentality of focusing on sustainable development rather than materialistic
goods. However, it is to be noted that the poor having cars does represent a
degree of economic development of the country, as even the poor are able to
enjoy luxury goods. Hence, I largely agree with Mr Gustavos statement.
The richs use of public transportation signifies that the country possesses
an advanced transportation network that is so comfortable, effective and
efficient, comparable to that of private transport, where even those who can
afford luxury goods such as cars are willing to utilise it. This is exemplified in the
case study of New York City, an international financial centre which is considered
the most developed in the city in the United States. It possesses a complex
network of subways and buses, and over half of the population do not own
automobiles. The presence of advanced infrastructure is a key indicator of
whether a country is well-developed, as it improves the environment, making it
pleasant and liveable for its citizens. In comparison, in the case study of the
developing country of Nigeria, specifically her former capital city, Lagos, the city
suffers from constant breakdowns in its rail systems, due to rampant corruption
of the officials, as well as negligence in maintaining the network, rendering it an
unreliable form of transportation. The poor transportation infrastructure
discourages her citizens from utilising public transport, as personal automobiles
are much more reliable for commuters to arrive to locations on time. Hence, it is
evident that the preference of a countrys citizens towards using public
transportation is a clear indicator of the level of development of a country.
Secondly, developed countries focus more on sustainable growth rather
than economical and material pursuits. For example, in Beijing, even though the
city possesses a developed public transportation network consisting of buses and
an underground metro, the latest statistics published by Bloomberg Business
shows that the city has 63 passenger vehicles for every 100 households, which is
eight times the world average level of passenger car ownership. This indicates a
heavy preference for personal transportation despite the presence of developed
infrastructure. In developing countries, the government is willing to endure
pollution and environmental degradation in order to pursue rapid economic
development, through heavy industrialization that require massive use of energy
resources. As a result, the convenience and reliability of personal transport is

Bai Jiawei
preferred by her citizens, to maximise efficiency and save time during travelling.
In contrast, developed countries are freed from the emphasis of industrialization
and growth, as they already possess a stable and developed economy. Hence,
the society tends to seek environmentally friendly alternatives in their daily
commute, reducing pollution and usage of fossil fuels and ensuring sustainable
development, preferring to utilise public transport instead. It is therefore evident
that in developing countries, the pursuit of economic development over
sustainable growth results in her citizens preferring the usage of personal
transport over public transportation.
However, it is to be noted that the ownership of cars by the poor is an
indication of development in a country and should not be neglected. As personal
transport is a luxury good, only citizens who are financially well-off will be able to
opt to utilise it as a form of transport over public transport, which is a normal
good. Hence, widespread ownership of cars, signifies that the citizens are all able
to provide for themselves, suggesting low unemployment rates as well as income
disparity. This indicates that the country has a developed economy with
substantial GDP per capita, contributing to the HDI which gauges a countrys
level of development. For example, the United States, a highly economically
developed country, has over 800 vehicles per 1000 people, compared to less
developed African countries such as Ethiopia and the Central African Republic,
with only 3 vehicles per 1000 people. Hence, it is evident that car ownership is a
determinant of the level of development in a country, and should not be
In conclusion, I agree largely with Mr Gustavos statement, and feel that
while his statement largely holds true and is relevant in the modern society,
where the willingness of the rich to utilise public transport signifies developed
infrastructure in a country, as well as an advanced mentality in the pursuit of
sustainable development, there are notable exceptions to his statement which
should be taken in mind.

800 words

Bai Jiawei

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