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This is the first time I hear about the term "zeroth world". A quick Google search did bring up some results, but not much. Wikipedia does not seem to cover that. Of course it covers 1st/2nd/3rd world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-world_model, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_World, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_World, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_World). The terms "developed", "developing", and "underdeveloped" are somewhat analogue to that (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developing_country). There is also the term fourth world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_World). Putting countries (or cities) into these categories is hard of course (and maybe does not make sense).

It seems that the term zeroth world naturally is used to say that such countries/cities are more developed than the first world. More specifically, more developed than USA. Countries/cities like Taipei, Singapore (in this article) or Norway (http://www.chaosnode.net/blog/2018/06/17/life-in-the-zeroth-...) are such examples (you probably can add some more to that list, e.g. Switzerland).

Other articles (https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/america-is-r...) argue that we maybe can just downgrade USA to a developing country (i.e. like 2nd world).

I think he uses the term creatively, it’s not a standard term I’ve seen elsewhere.

Having spent a decent amount of time in both mainland China and Hong Kong, and living in San Francisco and previously elsewhere in the USA, I can definitely relate. So many things about China feel much more modern than the USA. I get better cell phone service on top of remote mountains in China than I do at my home in downtown San Francisco. Public transit is light years better there as well. Certainly there are things that are worse in China, the main one being air quality, but often coming back to the USA after an extended trip in China or Hong Kong is quite disappointing as I reacclimate to our crappy infrastructure.

At least peak air pollution seems to have been passed, so it'll only get better from here (it's still a long way down though).

The situation at the moment is a bit difficult in that reducing some of the emissions will actually result in more pollution, since the pollutant mix undergoes chemical reactions and some components deplete others.

What about going back to China? Do you have to reacclimate to keeping your opinions to yourself?

American living in Switzerland, and while I'd definitely agree that it's more developed than the US (on the continuum of development in my mind from also spending a lot of time in places most would consider "developing"), I'm just not sure there's a clear difference between some of those countries named and the US. Many European countries seem around where the US is; some are more developed, while others are probably less developed. I have no idea where I would draw any distinction.

Here on HN, how developed a country is is directly proportional to the quality of train service in that country. Other considerations are too marginal to matter.

Public transport / trains is just one of the most obvious aspects. Of course there are others (public schools, public universities, quality of streets, public healthcare, general safety, food quality, nature, many many more ...). Often they are very much correlated, though.

Do I understand you right that you claim that while train service is bad in USA, there are other things / aspects which are better developed in USA, which are at least as much important? Can you give some examples?

I'm the GP commenter, so not the person you replied to, but some random areas where I think the US certainly exceeds some/many European countries include air quality and quality of specialty healthcare (not health insurance or financial coverage).

EDIT: To provide a random anecdote, if you've ever known someone who needed an ambulance in the south of Spain you'll know what I mean. ;) The public healthcare services don't exactly have a very positive reputation, though the private ones are relatively cheap.

Random article of an incident in Sweden so apparently it isn't just the experience of my family members: https://www.thelocal.se/20120503/40608

I'd like to find actual data on this but seem to be having difficulty doing so.

> I'm the GP commenter, so not the person you replied to, but some random areas where I think the US certainly exceeds some/many European countries include air quality and quality of specialty healthcare.

Choosing (small) areas and some samples doesn't make a lot of sense, though. Comparing a small city with a county hospital to some rural area and saying "see, there are areas here were medical services are much closer" is obvious and somewhat useless. You'll want to compare the average or median accessibility, not tiny sub-samples.

I wasn't comparing much of anything for ambulance response times because, as I said, I couldn't find concrete data on it. I'm not sure what rural area you're referring to but the anecdote from the south of Spain was in a city with over half a million people.

Anyway, as for air quality, a population adjusted measure of exposure: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/PM25-air-pollution

Seems like that year was a special case, and they (over?)corrected in the next: https://www.thelocal.se/20130204/45990

I have two cars between my wife and I. In Europe we'd have much smaller cars, but the train is there. But I'd rather travel point to point, on my schedule, even to places the train doesn't run. And I'd like to bring our kayaks with us. I feel that from my point of view, cars are superior and having a train around wouldn't improve our quality of life.

Train service is pretty high up in the Maslow's hierarchy of social needs is the thing. It really is a nice extra if a region can provide it for its people – but it usually doesn't come before reasonable health care across the board.

I took the term to be a snarky punch at the "1st world", which asian megacities have long since left behind.

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