What US state is most like a third world country?
During the cold war between the Communist block nations and the Industrialized captalist countries some writers, scholars and others saw the world divided into two primary camps. These blocs eventually became called the "first world" and the "second world." Although few people actually called them that. But those not aligned with either, were frequently called the "Third World" nations. These third world nations were so poor that their concerns were more involved in feeding, housing, and health of their citizens-things taken for granted in the two larger blocks.
Well those terms are outdated so the proper and more precise terms to be using would be developed and developing.
The quick answer is that no US state is similar to a developing nation. The poorest state in the nation is Mississippi with a median household income of $40,000. As far as the world goes, that is pretty well off. This is also coupled with the fact that just about everyone in Mississippi has access to clean water, sewage, internet, and most Mississippians owning a home and vehicle.
However, Mississippi is poor by developed standards. There is a poverty rate of over 20%, rampant crime, low social mobility, and a shitty education system. This is also coupled with the fact that the US is one of the only developed nations without a universal healthcare system or affordable/tuition free education system. The rural American South is among the most poor places in the developed world, more so then ex-communist areas/nations that are considered developed today such as Eastern Germany, the Czech Republic, Estonia etc...
While Mississippi is a bad place to live by developed standards, their citizens live a life of luxury compared to those in many other nations. One of the many strange things about the United States is its contrasting nature between its states.
The question is which state is MOST LIKE a third world country. That can be answered, but it is extremely important to understand this critical point: no US state is very much like a third-world country at all. To pretend that any are is an insult. Not to the US state; rather, it is an insult to people living in actual third-world (developing world) countries.
What are the characteristics that might make a US state more like a developing country than others?
Poverty. Homelessness. Housing shortages. Income inequality. Poor public services.
So which state is the most like that? This one:
California, I believe, has the 7th largest economy in the world. Yet homelessness is everywhere in southern California. Many homeless have mental problems and a person must be aware of their surrounding as to not get a knife in your back or assaulted. Some just fell into hard times so they live on the streets. You can expect when you are in a business district for one or more panhandlers to accost you. Many are playing the fake homeless card and panhandling is a second income. ( check UT videos).
Trash is on the streets everywhere except in the most well to do areas.
The California representatives are continually raising taxes to fund give away programs. Thus those California middle class citizens that can are moving out of California in droves. The California legislature must continually raise taxes to fund give away programs so their voter base will continue to vote these legislators into office.
When you have major news publications, such as New York Times and DailyMail calling your two largest metros "third world," then it's safe to say your state, as a whole, resembles that of a third world country.