Write a Critique of Michael P. Todaro’s Definition of Development

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Todaro defines development “as a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes, and national institutions, as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality, and the eradication of absolute poverty. Development, in its essence, must represent the whole gamut of change by which an entire social system, tuned to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups within that system, moves away from a condition of life widely perceived as unsatisfactory and toward a situation or condition of life regarded as materially and spiritually 'better'.” (1985:85) Todaro believes there are three core values of development and these core values are life-sustenance, self-esteem and freedom to choose. In this essay, different views towards Todaro’s definition of development will be discussed.

Economics plays a major role in the development process. Regarding development, to increase in the levels of living of people is a major aspect. Referring to Todaro, life sustenance means to the ability to provide basic necessities. All people have certain basic needs without which life would be impossible. (Todaro, 1981) This means to raise people’s level of livings, their incomes and consumption levels of food, medical services, education etc., through economic growth processes . Economic growth refers to a rise in national or per capita income and product. If the production of goods and services in a country rises, by whatever means, one can speak of that rise as economic growth. (Economic Development Glossary 2003) Todaro claims that economic growth is a necessary condition to improve the quality of life. The World Trade Organization (WTO) also argues that growth of trade between countries may increase the wealth of everyone. ( World Trade Organization 2002) Globalization has helped to lessen the problem of poverty in a large number of developing countries which allows those countries to increase their integration into the world economy. Considerable advantages can be seen. Through international trade, people in these integrating countries saw their income rise, and the number of people suffered from poverty declined. GDP of these countries increased. Higher standard of living is resulted. The life expectancy is longer than before and better schooling is achieved. Over the last decade, APEC economies have experienced some benefits from globalization and trade liberalization. Richardson reports that almost seventy percent of world growth in the last decade can be attributed to these economies. Ninety five million jobs in East Asia had been created and the problem of poverty in the region has been reduced by one third because of this. (Richardson 2000) The increased economic activity in a region like this has far reaching effects. With more jobs created there are more people with money. This leads to increased demand for other goods and services being produced locally. Increased production may occur to satisfy the market demand and the local economies could start to prosper. When people have more money, their living standard will become higher.

Also, The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) take a big role in development process in recent years. The MDGs tackle many of the most lasting failures of human development. MDGs can be seen as the practices of Todaro’s three core values of development. The objectives of the Goals are to place human well-being and poverty reduction at the centre of global development. The Goals and the promotion of human development share a common motivation and reflect a vital commitment to promoting human well-being that entails dignity, freedom and equality for all people. (UNMDG 2005) The world has made significant progress in achieving many of the Goals. The Human Development Report 2003 reported that between 1990 and 2002 average overall incomes increased by approximately 21 percent. The number of people...
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