Alfred Sauvy


Alfred Sauvy (31 October 1898 – 30 October 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.


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.



  1. Leonard, Thomas M. (2006). "Third World". Encyclopedia of the Developing World. 3. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1542–3. ISBN 0-87073-943-3. Retrieved November 2009. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. "Three Worlds Model". University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Retrieved September 2009. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
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