According to dependence theories, the cause of underdevelopment is the dependence on industrialized countries while internal factors of developing countries are considered irrelevant or seen as symptoms and consequences of dependence. The development of industrialized countries and the underdevelopment of developing countries are parts of one historical process. Developing countries are dependent countries. The economic and political interests of industrialized countries determine their development or underdevelopment. The goals are superimposed. Underdevelopment is not backwardness but intentional downward development.

As to the causes of dependence, the various theories differ, economic factors always dominating. External trade theories concentrate on economic relations between countries. Imperialism theories stress the politicoeconomic interest while dependencia theories concentrate on the deformation of internal structures by dependence which perpetuates the situation.

Dependence theories concentrate on explanations of the genesis of underdevelopment and pay little attention to strategies for overcoming this situation. Implicit development here means liberation, end of structural dependence, and independence.