Measuring Development

Measuring Development

Discover the many ways in which ‘development’ can be measured.

When we talk about rich and poor regions of the globe we do so in several ways. Some people refer to the ‘West’ and the ‘rest'; some refer to the ‘North’ and the ‘South'; some to the ‘first’ and ‘third’ worlds. All of these terms are problematic because they are inaccurate, so most people now talk about the developed world and the developing world. The developed world includes countries like the UK and the developing world means countries like Nigeria.

There are a number of indicators which provide information about the relative affluence of a nation. Some of these indicators are birth and death rates, infant mortality, people per doctor, literacy rate, access to safe water and life expectancy.Key indicators are gross national product (GNP), Human Development Index (HDI):

GNP: The market value of all products and services produced in one year by a country.

HDI: Calculated by analysing the average life expectancy, literacy rate, and standards of living.

Generally speaking, countries which have a low GNP and a low HDI will also have poorer infant mortality rates, access to doctors, and literacy rates. They usually have higher birth rates and the life expectancy will be lower than elsewhere. The life expectancy in Japan is 83; the life expectancy in Sierra Leone it is 41.

However, there are often great differences between different regions of the same country. In the UK, for instance, the average life expectancy is almost 80, but in some parts of our inner cities it is much lower.