Discuss the importance of development issues and the indicators which influence views about an areas state of development.
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Discuss the importance of development issues and the indicators which influence views about an areas state of development Development is defined in the dictionary as "to make or become larger" or "to make usable or profitable". The level of development can be measured using a range of physical, social and cultural indicators. These allow us to use a figure to compare different countries and they also give us an idea about what the country is like economically, socially and even environmentally. However, there are limitations in using these indicators as they cannot take into account specific contributory factors within a country and they also allow us to assume what a country is like without experiencing it for ourselves. In what follows I will discuss the different development indicators and judgements made resulting from these. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is probably the most widely used indicator. It represents the value of all goods and services produced within a country, usually measured in US dollars and calculated per capita to make comparisons between different countries easier. If the GDP for a country is high this suggests that it has many productive industries producing goods and services such as schools and hospitals are well developed. If the figure is low, it implies that the country has few industries and services and therefore a poorer quality of life. The Gross National Product (GNP) is a similar indicator, only it also includes goods and services produced by that country overseas.
The death rate in general indicates the level of health care, sanitation and living conditions of a country. As with the birth rate, figures for this indicator are not always accurate for less developed countries and it does not tell us what is responsible for a high death rate. Japan for example has an extremely high GDP so a high death rate in this country would more likely be due to a natural disaster as Japan is very close to a destructive plate margin. Likewise, San Francisco is on the San Andreas Fault where the North American and Pacific plate occasionally stick when sliding past each other and release pressure in the form of earthquakes. This was the case in 1989 when 60 people were killed as a result of collapsing flyovers in an suburban district of San Francisco. Another situation in which the death rate was extremely high for a highly developed country was the terrorist attack on America in 2001, when approx 2800 people were killed on September 11th. These unpredictable events have to be taken into consideration when comparing figures. If we did not know a country was well developed and looked at a table of figures for the death rate, we would assume that countries with a high death rate are less developed than those with a lower death rate. Literacy rates are another indicator. This is the percentage of people that can read and write. This clearly indicates the availability of education and the extent to which children can get into education.
Separately they do not give us a very accurate overall picture but together we can get a good idea of what the country is like. They all have advantages and disadvantage so general knowledge is important when looking at statistics in a table, as natural disasters, war & epidemics of disease cannot be explained by a value. The more you learn about a place, the less biased you will be when looking at general figures. All of these indicators come from a very Western point of view. The most widely used indicator, the GDP, is directly linked to money and this is worth taking into consideration as it could be argued that it is not fair to value all societies by this. A high GDP does not necessarily mean there is a fair distribution throughout the country. For some people, gold has no value and material possessions are not as important as they are in our modern society. The need for hospitals and doctors in developing countries is perhaps less than developed countries. Stress seems to come with economic development as cancer and heart disease are two of the biggest killers in the Western World, yet they are very rare in the developing world. Development also leads to the destruction and pollution of our natural environment which could also be a contributory factor to common health problems in developed countries. In a way, developed and developing countries can not be compared as two extreme lifestyles have both benefits and disadvantages. However, we can still learn a lot by looking at indicators of a country's state of development. Emma Alexander U63
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