What Is Development?


Development is the growth, progress or positive change in physical, social and economic conditions without damaging natural resources. This includes the improvement of the quality of life, which can be measured in terms of health, education, wealth and opportunities.

This is a difficult term to define because it incorporates so many different aspects of human life. The word ‘development’ also has a lot of connotations and can mean different things to different people. This is partly because there are so many cultural contexts which can influence what features of development we experience – such as language, religion, food and clothing.

For example, when a person develops in one culture they may do so quite differently to someone from another. This is because of the differences in their cultural beliefs and values. These can be extremely powerful and are often hard to change. The term ‘development’ can also be seen as a western centric concept which can be destructive to traditonal cultures and ways of life.

A country’s level of development is usually measured by its per capita income or the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which is the value of all the goods and services in a country that are produced within the year. Traditionally, countries have been classified as first world, second or third world.

A major issue is that there is no universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes a developed or underdeveloped country. It is therefore very difficult to compare the levels of development in countries across the globe.

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