Development a Multidimensional Concept

Topics: Human Development Index, Developed country, Life expectancy Pages: 7 (2693 words) Published: April 13, 2011
It was once a worldwide belief that development is primarily concerned with economic growth, meaning that once there was economic growth a country would develop. This was so firmly believed that a number of theories, which were put across to explain development and how to achieve development, such as modernization theory, and dependency theory centered on economic growth being the key factor in development. There is no one definition of development, as persons have different interpretations of development. In Portest’s and Kincaid’s interpretation of development, they stated that it should involve a reduction in unemployment and the extension of fundamental rights and freedoms for the population. Another definition of development, according to Garrett Nagle, is a number of characteristics such as demographic change, economic growth, increased use of resources, modernization, higher levels of technology and political freedom. Economic growth, which is measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), occurs when there is an increase in GDP over the previous year. Although the assumption that development is primarily concerned with economic growth is incorrect, it is understood why this assumption was made in the first place. All countries that are now termed developed have experienced more or less consistent economic growth to their reaching to the point of developed. In addition, all of the ‘developed’ countries have high GDPs, which are considerably greater than developing countries’. For example, Caribbean neighbor, the United States of America, in the year 2000 had a GDP per capita of US$ 34, 142, while Caribbean island, Jamaica, in that same year had a GDP per capita of US$ 3,064. GDP per capita refers to the amount of money each person supposedly earns or is spent on each person, when the total population divides the GDP. Another argument that supports development as being solely concerned with economic growth, is that resources needed for development come at a cost. It is argued that how can their be improved technology, shift from subsistence to commercial farming, expansion and improvement in infrastructure and so forth if there is no money to fund these moves. Indeed many of the resources needed for development such as incubators in the health care sector and increased number of schools to improve literacy is expensive. There is no way these things can be accumulated without economic growth accumulating first, developed countries in Europe, such as Switzerland have excellent roads and first class medical equipment which all come at a high cost. It is also argued that economic growth attracts more economic growth, an assumption that has much credibility. If a country experiences economic growth the country may invest that increased money into building, more factories which will in turn increase production and economic growth. Also, if the GDP of a country is increasing and the country uses that money to improve physical and social infrastructure this will in most cases attract investors. Investors want easy access to shipping ports and good amenities to facilitate their businesses, which among other things provide jobs for the countries’ citizens and increase the output of goods and services. One example of this is Maharashtra, India, which has experienced massive economic growth, attracted between 1991 and 1996 over US$64 million worth of foreign investment. Another argument supporting the statement that development is primarily concerned with economic growth is that economic growth can be quantified, so it easily shows if the society is improving. As mentioned earlier economic growth is measured by GDP. If GDP increases over a few successive years, it is assumed that a country is developing. If the GDP is constant or decreasing, it is said that development is stagnant or development is moving backwards. In fact, GDP is still the most widely used and accepted form of measuring development and considered a relatively...
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