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Knowledge and Beliefs of Ordinary People about Developmental Hierarchies

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionThornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha Ghimire, Arjan Gjonca, Attila Melegh, Colter Mitchell, Yu Xie, Li-Shou Yang, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Kathryn Yount. 2010. "Knowledge and Beliefs of Ordinary People about Developmental Hierarchies." PSC Research Report No. 10-715. July 2010.

Scholars and policy makers have for centuries used developmental hierarchies to characterize different countries. The hypothesis motivating this paper is that such thinking has been circulated internationally and is used by ordinary people. This paper uses data from surveys in twelve diverse countries to study how developmental hierarchies are understood in everyday life. We compare how ordinary people rate countries on development with the United Nations ratings on its Human Development Index (HDI). Our research shows that most people can rate countries on development and do so very similarly to the UN. These findings suggest that developmental hierarchies are widely understood around the world and are widely available to ordinary people as they make decisions about many aspects of life.

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