Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Alabama As A Third World Country: How True Is It?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 26, 2014

Editor’s Note, Saturday, 15 October 2016: Since Sunday, October 26, 2014, the original publishing date of this article, Yellowhammer News blog has thought to create their own entry (herein linked) obliquely contradicting the data supplied and referenced in this entry, which has now been published for over two years. Though they do not refute the data cited herein, instead, they refer to an Alabama-based data analysis company, and present data exclusively from the United Nations’ Human Development Index to support their assertion. In stark contrast, we use source citation and and references to the variety of sources used to compare Alabama to Third World Nations.

Also entitled as: How does Alabama compare with Third World Countries?

In so many comparative rankings for quality of life within our 50 United States, Alabama and Mississippi seem in a dead heat for last place. In a veritable “Race To The Bottom,” Alabama and Mississippi scrap over being in last place. In fact, it’s been a long-standing joke — with the sad, bitter sting of truth — that Alabama’s State Motto is not Audemus jura nostra defendere,” which has been translated as: “We Dare Maintain Our Rights” or “We Dare Defend Our Rights,” but rather “Thank God For Mississippi.”

And just so we’re singing on the same sheet of music, and on the same verse, a “Third World Nation” is one which were at one time colonies “formally lead by imperialism. The end of imperialism forced these colonies to survive on their own. With lack of support, these colonies started to develop characteristics such as poverty, high birthrates and economic dependence on other countries. The term was then affiliated to the economic situation of these former colonies and not their social alliances to either capitalism or communism.” In a more modern sense however, a “Third World Nation,” is more readily thought of as being one of several “underdeveloped nations of the world, especially those with widespread poverty.” And it is in that sense to which I refer to Alabama as “a Third World Nation.”

In essence, what that term refers to is Quality Of Life. And, there are many aspects of life that can be measured, such as rates and incidences of crime, employment/unemployment, education, health/sickness/disease, responsive & efficient government, availability of clean water, sewerage, utilities such as electricity, natural gas, supporting infrastructure to deliver those utilities, which includes transportation, roads, highways, airports, railways, and access to the same. There is much more to life than the mere availability of food, clothing and shelter. For example, who would want to eat raw meat, wear bearskins, and live in a cave? In context, those three items are certainly fulfilled. And if that’s all there is, then all is well… right?

Demonstrating that, again, there is MUCH MORE to life than the mere availability of food, clothing and shelter.

Consider, for example, Public Health.

Rates of Obesity, and Obesity-related Diseases (also called chronic, or long-term problems) such as Diabetes, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Stroke, and certain types of Cancer, in Mississippi and Alabama are among the highest in our United States. While Obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic of significant national proportions, it is particularly problematic in the SouthEast, and in Mississippi and Alabama, especially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.

To be certain, Obesity and Overweight are two DIFFERENT terms, though they describe the extent of the condition. Overweight is having a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater, while Obesity is having a Body Mass Index of 30, or greater.

What is Body Mass Index?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height, which is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI correlates very closely to direct measures of body fat.

Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
Calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.

Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5″ (65″)
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96

These figures of obesity – which include juveniles and children, not just adults – have meaning for jobs, a job-ready workforce, and the future of the state. Here’s one reason why: The medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

So, if we considered…
Alabama as a 3d World Nation, what is Alabama‘s Diabetes Rate compared to some other nations with similar figures?
Diabetes 12.2%
Anguilla 13.07
Dominica 11.29
Montenegro 12.51
Serbia 12.35

Let’s talk about access to health care, as in “Is there a doctor nearby where I live?”

Alabama as a 3d World Nation:
Physicians per 1,000 people: 2.07
Latvia 2.9
Hungary 3.0
Estonia 3.3
Kazakhstan 3.8

What about Low Birth Weight? Babies born under a certain weight – typically about 5 pounds – are considered at greater risk for early death, and disease. That’s because they may be premature, have been exposed to infection while developing, have birth defects, or the mother may have certain health problems such as chronic health conditions (as mentioned above, which may include diabetes, hypertension, heart, lung, or kidney problems), or may smoke, consume alcoholic beverages, use illicit drugs, or abuse prescription medicines.

Alabama as a 3d World Nation:
Low Birth Weight 10.8%
Botswana 10
Cameroon 11
Cambodia 11
Ghana 11

Consider poverty.

Nationally, the United States Census Bureau says Alabama‘s poverty rate for the years 2008-2012 is 18.1%.
Comparatively, the average American poverty rate is 14.9%.

Consider education.
Nationally, the United States Census Bureau says Alabama‘s education rate – defined as persons aged 25+ with at least a High School Diploma – is 82.6%.Comparatively, the average American education rate is 85.7%.

Population 25 years and over, 9th to 12th grade, no diploma (High School dropout):
Alabama 11.5%
Nationally 8.2%

Consider higher education.
Nationally, the United States Census Bureau says Alabama‘s higher education rate – defined as persons with at least a Bachelor’s Degree is 22.3%.
Comparatively, the rate for average American with at least a Bachelor’s Degree is 28.5%.

Let’s talk about ethnicity.
Nationally, the United States Census Bureau says Alabama‘s ethnic population – defined as Black or African American – in 2013 was 26.6%.
Comparatively, the average American Black population is 13.2%.

What about Latino?
Alabama 4.1%
Nationally 17.1%

Those with a disability:
Alabama 16.3%
Nationally 12.0%

Those with disabilities aged 18-64 (productive working years):
Alabama 14.6%
Nationally 10.0%

Born in the United States:
Alabama 95.7%
Nationally 85.8%

Alabama’s Per Capita GDP (32,615) International neighbors:
Slovenia 28,298
Cyprus 29,450
Malta 30,213
Trinidad 30,439
Spain 32,103

Per Capita GDP 2012:
Alabama 32,615
Nationally 51,755

Per Capita GDP 2012:
Georgia 37,702
Tennessee 37,254
Southeast USA 36,961
Florida 34,802
Alabama 32,615 (ranked 45/50)
Idaho 31,945
South Carolina 31,881
Arkansas 31,837
West Virginia 30,389
Mississippi 28,944

Per Capita Income 2008-12:
Alabama $23,587
Nationally $28,051

Median Household Income 2008-12:
Alabama $43,160
Nationally $53,046


And, if you’re really feeling kinda’ froggy, here’s a more in-depth Census Bureau comparison of Alabama with the United States:


The Alabama Department of Archives and History writes this about the state’s motto: “According to a Birmingham News-Age Herald article by Marie Bankhead Owen (then director of the state Archives) dated April 23, 1939, she came upon the idea while searching for “a phrase that would interpret the spirit of our peoples in a terse and energetic sentence.” A part of a poem entitled “What Constitutes a State?” by the 18th-century author Sir William Jones found in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations includes the stanza “Men who their duties know. But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain.” The motto was translated into Latin by Professor W. B. Saffold, of the University of Alabama.”

It certainly gives pause for thought.

Rights have responsibilities, and they are inseparable.

But, given the opportunity, if you could choose or select the items of importance to you… where would you live? Where COULD you live?

Using the measure above, how does Alabama compare?

3 Responses to “Alabama As A Third World Country: How True Is It?”

  1. I choose to live in Mexico. Living conditions are better than in Alabama. Medical care is better. The food is healthier. The climate is much better. I think that living here will extend my lifespan by several years. I associate with higher quality people too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: