What Is Meant by Development?


When it comes to development we tend to think of positive change and growth. This is why the word ‘development’ is often used to describe things like economic prosperity, social progress and the improvement of living standards. However, defining what is meant by development can be a challenge. The word itself can mean many different things and there are many theories of development.

For example, some theorists such as Erikson and Vygotsky believe that development follows a fixed pattern or a series of stages that people pass through. They may also have particular assumptions about the role of nature versus nurture and whether traits, characteristics or experiences early in life are permanent or malleable throughout the rest of a person’s life. Other theorists, such as those who support lifespan or ecological systems approaches believe that there are a wide range of developmental pathways and that they are dependent more on the context in which a person lives.

Another aspect of development is how a country is ranked globally in terms of its level of development. This is usually done by looking at a country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita and by comparing it to other countries. The underlying concept behind this is that developed countries have a higher standard of living than less-developed or developing countries.

It is also often assumed that a developed nation has a higher international standing. This is because they are able to contribute more financially and politically to world affairs. A further implication is that poverty in any form is detrimental to the development of a nation because it hinders most other goals of development, from economic freedom to a clean environment.