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:

Alfred Sauvy
Alfred Sauvy (1983) by Erling Mandelmann.jpg
Alfred Sauvy in 1983.
Born31 October 1898 Edit this on Wikidata
Died30 October 1990 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 91)
OccupationProfessor Edit this on Wikidata
" 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".

Sauvy coined Third World by analogy with the Third Estate and the above quote is a paraphrase of 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 École Polytechnique. After graduating, he worked at Statistique Générale de France until 1937. He took part in the X-Crise Group. From 1938, he was economic advisor to Minister of Finance Paul Reynaud until the second world war broke out in 1939. Under the Nazi occupation, Sauvy contributed to the Bulletins rouge-brique, a government-sanctioned periodical. After the war, Charles de Gaulle offered to appoint him to the position of General Secretary for Family and Population, but Sauvy preferred to devote himself to demographics. He became director of 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 determine 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 BooksCS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • 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. ISBN 0-87073-943-3. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  2. ^ "Three Worlds Model". University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Archived from the original on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  • Martínez Coll, Juan Carlos (2001): Grandes Economistas, [1] February 22, 2004
  • Tepperman, Lorne (2007): Social Problems: A Canadian Perspective, [2] December 11, 2010
  • The original article published L'Observateur on August 14, 1952.