What Is Development?

Development describes the process of bringing something to a new stage, including changes in quantity and quality. It also encompasses creating conditions for continuing growth and progress. Development is generally considered to be good change, although it must always be balanced with the need for environmental sustainability.

There are many different perspectives on what constitutes developmental processes and the conditions that foster them. For example, some theorists such as Piaget and Erikson assume that all people go through a series of developmental challenges or “crises” at particular times during their lives. These are sometimes called psychosocial crises. Other theorists, such as those who endorse lifespan or ecological systems approaches, think that human development can take on a variety of patterns and pathways depending on specific cultural, historical, and societal contexts.

Generally, to be considered a developed country, a nation must achieve a high level of economic progress. A common way to measure economic development is to calculate the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. This is a measure of the total value of goods and services produced in a country divided by its population.

Other definitions of development include the improvement of a person’s quality of life, and sustainable development, which is the concept of providing for the human needs of all in ways that are environmentally sound. The goal of development is to improve the living standards of everyone around the world, but this cannot happen if the environment is degraded.