Evaluate the usefulness of the range of criteria available for measuring levels of development at a global scale?

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Evaluate the usefulness of the range of criteria available for measuring levels of development at a global scale?

In the book development and underdevelopment by Garret Nagle, the term development is defined as:

“The growth and modernisation of an economy, and an increase in per capita income and gross national product (GNP). While these are important aspects of development, increasing recognition must be given to improving the quality of life of the population, e.g. education, health care, cultural values and housing.”

Indicators that I am going to use to answer the question are GNP, life expectancy, illiteracy, safe water, infant mortality and population growth. I am also going to use some composite indexes and show how they are used; I will use a range of locations so that we can see how different countries vary.

People often believe that development is to do with wealth and money of a country; this is because the most commonly used development indicator is wealth, gross national product (GNP) per capita – the total economic output of a country divided by its population. However this assumes that if a country is wealthy then the quality of life will be high, although high GNP per capita can disguise massive differences in the wealth of individuals and levels of human well being within the country.

There are many different types of development for example some governments in LEDC’s work with local people and carry out ‘bottom-up’ projects which involve things like teaching local people to grow crop better and helping them to build water tanks and wells to get drinking water, which helps them to improve the quality of life for those people. There are also ‘top-down’ projects which are big projects like dams which will benefit the whole country and improve the quality of life for everyone in the country. There are also schemes which have been developed such as self-help schemes in Sao Paulo where local people are able to help themselves with materials provided by the local governments.

There are many development indicators. Figure 1 below shows some of the indicators, but these are only a few of the many that are on hand. The differences between social and economic conditions allow us to compare levels of development achieved in different countries.  

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The most commonly used indicators according to Global Challenge by Alistair McNaught and Michael Witherwick are adult literacy, life expectancy, GNP and access to safe water; this is because they are the most informative of all the indicators.

  • Adult literacy – This is an indication of the level of education in a country.
  • Life expectancy – This is a measure of the quality of healthcare, levels of hygiene and sanitation in a country. In LEDC’s the under 5’s mortality rate will be fairly high, this will cause the overall life expectancy of the country to be low.
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