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Studying development is essentially about measuring how developed one country is compared to
other countries or to the same country in the past. There are many different ways of considering
development, but the two most important are economic development and human development.
Economic development is a measure of how wealthy a country is and of how this wealth
is generated (for example agriculture is considered less economically advanced then
Human development measures the extent to which people have access to wealth, jobs,
knowledge, nutrition, health, leisure and safety as well as political and cultural freedom.
The more material elements in this list, such as wealth and nutrition, are often grouped
together under the heading standard of living. The less material elements, such as health and
leisure, are often referred to as quality of life.
There is no simple, single way to calculate the level of development of a country, region, or people,
because countries and economies, cultures and peoples differ so much. Instead geographers use a
series of development indicators to help them judge a country's level of development. For example:
1. Health. Do all the people in a country have access to medical care? What level of
healthcare is available - basic or advanced? Is it free or paid for?
2. Industry. What type of industry predominates? LEDCs tend to focus more on
primary industries, such as farming, fishing and mining. MEDCs focus on secondary
industries, such as manufacturing. The most advanced countries tend to focus more
on tertiary industries - services businesses, such as banking and information
3. Education. Do all the people in a country have access to education? Is it free? What
level of education is available (i.e. primary education, secondary education or
In order to assess the economic development of a country, geographers use economic indicators.
The most important of these indicators are listed below:
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the wealth or income of a country. GDP is the
total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year.
Gross National Product (GNP) is another measure of a country's wealth or income. GNP
measures the total economic output of a country, including earnings from foreign
investments, which are not included in GDP.
GNP per capita is a country's GNP divided by its population. (Per capita means per
Economic growth measures the annual increase in GDP, GNP, GDP per capita, or GNP
Inequality of wealth is an indication of the gap in wealth and income between a country's
richest and poorest people. It can be measured in many ways (eg the proportion of a
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Inflation measures how much the prices of goods, services and wages are increasing each
year. High inflation (above a few percent) is believed by many to be a bad thing, and
suggests a government lacks control over the economy.
Unemployment is measured by the number of people who cannot find work.
Economic structure shows how a country's economy is divided between primary,
secondary and tertiary industries.
Demographics studies population growth and population structure.…read more