The Importance of Development

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Development is not only economic growth and progress; it’s also the improvement of people’s lives, as measured by literacy, health and the availability of public services. Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen defines it as “a tool enabling people to reach their fullest potential by bringing about sustained improvements in economic, social and human well-being.”

The international community is focused on developing countries in order to help them achieve sustainable growth, reduce poverty, promote gender equality and protect the environment. The global economy has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, but many countries have a long way to go before they’re considered developed. Countries are often classified as developed or developing based on their gross domestic product (GDP) and citizens’ average incomes. But there’s a growing call to consider the broader effects of development, such as economic inequality and climate change, when determining whether or not a country is developed.

In addition to examining GDP and other statistics, the United Nations measures a nation’s developmental status using the Human Development Index (HDI). This measure looks at GNI per capita, life expectancy, education, and other factors to determine which countries are more or less developed than others. Those in North America and parts of Europe generally score highly on the HDI, while those in Sub-Saharan Africa struggle with poverty and disease.