Third World Areas In the United States

Are there any areas in the United States of America with Third World conditions, lifespans, incomes, infant moratality rates, etc…?

If you get small enough, like down to the crack house on the southside, sure. But even NA Reservations have better incomes than your ‘typical’ third world nation.

I can think of poor (usually rural)areas that resemble third-world countries. But in actual fact, in many of these places,people have cell phones and are morbidly obese. Being poor sucks, but in the USA, you do have options. If you live in a dying farming town, you can move to a city and upgrade . If you are stuck in a poor town in Appallachia, you can join the Army, get ome education, and move up.
In most third-world nations, you havefew options-mostpeople stay where they are.

Hidalgo county, Texas has a per capita income of $12,190–less than half the national average (cite-Texas Monthly 12-2009). And that’s probably skewed a little high, since those of us who make money here make way above the average in most other areas of the country. And many of the residents here are not only not American citizens, they are in the country illegally and do not have access to programs available to, say, those in Appalachia. That said, a lot of the undocumented people do take advantage of a lot of the government’s programs for the disadvantaged (cite-personal knowlege I can’t go into). But yes–there are places that are like a third world country here on our borders. People without electricity and water–out of the ordinary rates of uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, and no prenatal care. I saw this to a degree in El Paso, but nothing like what it is here in the Rio Grande Valley.

Does Puerto Rico count? Its people are US citizens by law, and the island infamously has half the median income of Mississippi.

It depends on what you’re defining as “Third World” (which is an outdated term, by the way; the more commonly used term today is “developing nation”). If you’re talking about the Least Developed Countries, as defined by the UN, no. There is nowhere in the US as poor as these countries. How to define a country’s level of development is actually a fairly controversial topic. The IMF defines things rather differently: this article from Wikipedia contains a list of countries that the IMF defines as developing. By this measure, I would agree that some of the very poorest parts of the US would be on par with some of the wealthier of these nations.

Nevertheless, even in the richest of these countries, there are going to be significant issues that affect society as a whole that in the US are not an issue. A person who makes good money in India is probably going to have quality of life concerns (poor public health increases spread of disease even among the wealthy, highly corrupt government, lack of quality infrastructure, etc.) that would not arise even for poor people in the United States. The US is hardly perfect, and has its own share of public health concerns, corrupt governmental officials, and crappy infrastructure, but not on the same scale or to the same extent as in India.

I don’t know what the lifespan or infant mortality rates are there, but the colonias of south Texas certainly have much in common with the third world, at least in terms of appearance. Think unpaved streets, tin roofed shacks and no running water. Though I did notice a few of the shacks had a satellite dish.

Fort Thompson, South Dakota is apparently frequently compared to a third-world country. According to Minnesota Public Radio, 70% of the residents are unemployed, a fifth of the households don’t have running water or a kitchen, and many homes are shared by 15–20 people.

Some of the homes are actually made of cardboard, also.

So poverty has no effect on children? They should just tough it out for 18 years of poor nutrition, poor shelter, poor health care, poor schooling, and high crime, and then join the army.

I didn’t notice this post earlier. This is just…well, there are a lot of problems with it, but I’ll start with the notion that in developing nations, people don’t have any options to move. This is totally false. There is plenty of internal migration for employment purposes in developing nations. How do you think cities like Mexico City, Mumbai, Lagos, and Jakarta got to be so enormous? People moved there for work.

I grew up in poverty (in relative terms, I’m from the USA), but had good nutrition, adequate shelter, medical care, excellent schools, below average crime, and then, yeah, I joined the Army. I’m now a productive member of society.

I’d hate to say that my situation was unique, given that I grew up in Michigan and there were other kids in my circumstances. Of course one of the contributing factors in my success (probably the biggest) was that we didn’t live in a ghetto or the mountains.

“Poverty” in the USA is incredibly rich by the standards of much of the world.

Never mind.

I grew up in a small town in Louisiana of about 1,300 and about half black and half white and some Mexicans. That was it. There was a large section black of town called “The Quarters” where desperately poor blacks lived. The houses were largely hand built out of scrap from bits of sheet metal and old wood and the rest was run-down government housing. Some of them were leaning because the wooden and cinder block foundations collapsed over the years but I am not aware of anyone that didn’t have running water or electricity since the 1970’s.
Even in the 1980’s some of my black classmates didn’t have telephones though.

Full-time medical care didn’t exist either after our only doctor moved but they set up a state funded clinic with a doctor and nurse that operated a few days a week. I am not sure if you could call that truly 3rd world however. There were plenty of well-off blacks and downright wealthy whites by any standard. Nobody was starving but a lot of kids found the 50 cent lunches and 25 cent breakfasts were too much for their family’s to afford so the free lunch program took care of it and still does.

Despite rural Southern stereotypes, it was a complicated situation. Nobody was getting lynched and we all had extremely poor friends and domestic help that were almost like family. I always wonder if I went to some of the last schools in the U.S. that were segregated by race. We integrated by race in 1980 but my parents taught at the black school before we integrated. I haven’t been back but a few times the age of 19 but the last I saw was it was getting more poor instead of less but anyone can go to the public schools and get good and medical care nutrition for free if they can fill out a form or figure out a schedule at all. That is what my Facebook friends tell me. I am not sure if that is really third world. Places in Africa, India, China, South America etc. are the real third-world with gigantic class differences, contaminated water, hunger, completely unstable utilities, and the constant risk of civil unrest. Those are the real third-world conditions. There are some towns in states like Arkansas and Mississippi well as a bunch of other states that are incredibly poor but there are enough state and federal funds to help out some in those areas if it gets bad enough. Not many people went to college but there are scholarships all over the place to support kids like that if they can figure out how to apply for them. Most of the really poor ambitious kids, especially the poor blacks, went into the military. One called me out of the blue a few days ago from Seattle and lives a perfect middle-class lifestyle there now. I am not sure that is available in real 3rd world areas.

‘Louisiana – Third World and proud of it’

(Seen on a T-shirt in New Orleans.)

Easier said than done.

There are places up there where there aren’t even towns, where education is extremely scant, and endemic health problems can disqualify young people from military service, and suspicion of the government might prevent a kid from even trying that route.

There are folks living in shacks they’ve knocked together from what they can find, living off what they can grow in poor soil and what they can hunt.

It’s bare bones, and in winter it’s hard. And inbreeding may be a joke to some, but it’s a genuine problem in some places, as are incest and child abuse.

These are areas where there are no TV cameras and few outsiders venture. There is literally no health care.

By the same token, there are micro-pockets of extreme poverty even in relatively urban areas. For example, the tent city in Athens, GA, near my old home. It’s an enclave in the woods known to few. The only evidence most people see is a path that leads to and from it, which you can see from the bypass, and hardly anyone knows where that path leads.

If you go back there, you’ll find a small community with its own social organization. The best-off residents have tiny shacks made out of scrap materials. The worst-off have make-shift tents, or even just seats from junked vans and old sleeping bags gotten from somewhere or other. They use the creek as a water supply and get food where they can. No one has a cell phone, or an income, or health care.

And on the deep backroads of Georgia you’ll find folks living in structures you can’t imagine anyone living in.

Yeah, there are pockets of 3rd world poverty in the USA.

Good for you. But I was responded to ralph’s suggestion that poor people had the means to life themselves out of poverty any time they wished. Life doesn’t start at the age of eighteen. A person born in terrible conditions is going to have to live in them for several years through no fault of their own without having any opportunity to help themselves. I think we should give some help to those people who can’t help themselves not just dismiss them.

Speaking of Indian reservations there’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Puerto Rico is poor for the US, but much better off than many Latin American countries. It has three times the per capita income of Nicaragua.

Are there any parts of the US that mimic the conditions of the slums in South America or India?