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Alfred Sauvy


Alfred Sauvy (1898-1990) was a demographer, anthropologist and historian of the French economy. Sauvy coined the term Third World ("Tiers Monde") in reference to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War.[1][2] In an article published in the French magazine, L'Observateur on August 14, 1952, Sauvy said:

" enfin, ce Tiers Monde ignoré, exploité, méprisé comme le Tiers Etat, veut lui aussi, être quelque chose"
"...because at the end this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World like the Third Estate, wants to become something too".

In using the expression Third World here he was paraphrasing Sieyès's famous sentence about the Third Estate during the French Revolution.


  • Biography 1
  • Demography 2
  • Work 3
  • References 4


Sauvy was born in Villeneuve-de-la-Raho (Pyrénées-Orientales) in 1898, and educated at the École Polytechnique. After graduating, he worked at the Statistique Générale de France until 1937. He took part in the X-Crise Group. In 1938, Paul Reynaud called him to deal with economic issues until the war arrived in 1939. During the Nazi occupation Sauvy helped in the publication of the Bulletin Rouge-Brique, a non-censored pamphlet. After the war, Charles de Gaulle wanted to appoint him the General Secretary for Family and Population, but Sauvy decided to devote himself to demographics. He became director of the INED (National Institute of Demographic Studies) and simultaneously represented France at the commission of Statistics and Population of the United Nations. He wrote for Le Monde until his death in October 1990.


Writing in 1949, Sauvy described potential overpopulation as a 'false problem' and argued against attempts at global population control. He suggested examining countries on a case-by-case basis to see whether they lack the raw materials and natural resources that can support a larger population. Otherwise, he thought that we run the risk of underpopulating a country that could support a much larger population.


  • . (Collection Thémis -Sciences sociales)
  • . (1961), Fertility and survival: Population Problems from Malthus to Mao Tse-Tung, London: Chatto & Windus; New York: Criterion Books 
  • 1977 Coût et valeur de la vie humaine—Paris : Hermann, 210 p.
  • 1980 La machine et le chômage : les progrès techniques et l'emploi—Paris : Dunod/Bordas, 320 p.
  • 1984 Le travail noir et l'économie de demain—Paris : Calmann-Lévy, 304 p.
  • 1985 De la rumeur à l'histoire—Paris : Dunod, 304 p.
  • 1990 La terre et les hommes : le monde où il va, le monde d'où il vient—Paris : Economica, 187 p.


  1. ^ Leonard, Thomas M. (2006). "Third World". Encyclopedia of the Developing World 3. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1542–3.  
  2. ^ "Three Worlds Model". University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Retrieved September 2009. 
  • Martínez Coll, Juan Carlos (2001): Grandes Economistas, [3] February 22, 2004
  • Tepperman, Lorne (2007): Social Problems: A Canadian Perspective, [4] December 11, 2010
  • The original article published L'Observateur on August 14, 1952.
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