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Section B: Development Indicators

Page history last edited by K J Hutchinson 10 years, 11 months ago

Lesson 1 - What are development indicators?


Learning objectives:

- to understand that countries vary in their level of development

- to use a range of economic and social indicators to measure development


What is development?


Development is any improvement in the standard of living of the people living in a country. Development can be measured in many ways. Statistics used to measure levels of development are called 'development indicators' as they indicate a country's level of development. The problem with any development indicator is that it is an average figure for the whole country, and often hides huge differences in the standard of living within a country.


Economic development indicators


You should be aware of the following economic indicators:


GNP = Gross National Product = the total value of goods and services produced by the country

GNI per capita = Gross National Income per person = the country's income divide by the number of people in the country; increases as a country becomes more developed

Internet access = number of people per 1000 with access to the internet; increases as a country becomes more developed


The AQA B specification refers to GNI per capita as being a key measure of wealth - and you should therefore expect this term to be used in the exams.


Social development indicators


Social indicators show how a country uses its wealth to try and improve the quality of life of its people. They tend to be split into population and health. You should be aware of the following social indicators:


Life expectancy = the average number of years that a new-born child can expect to live; increases as a country becomes more developed

Literacy rate = the percentage of people who can read and write; increases as a country becomes more developed

Number of people per doctor = the number of people in the population divided by the number of doctors; decreases as a country becomes more developed

Infant mortality = the number of child deaths under 1 year old per 1000 people; decreases as a country becomes more developed

Birth rate = number of babies born per 1000 of the population; decreases as a country becomes more developed

Death rate = number of deaths per 1000 of the population; decreases as a country becomes more developed


How does the World Bank classify countries?


In the 1970s, geographers divide the world into the rich north and the poor south - the Brandt line divided the two. This is shown on the map below.


Some of the countries in the south have developed so fast that the World Bank now classifies countries like this:


- developed countries - high income countries with average incomes of US$11,116 or more eg. USA, Japan, UK

- developing countries - middle income countries with average incomes between US$906-US$11,115 eg. Brazil, China

- developing countries - low income countries with average incomes of US$905 or less eg. Kenya, Bangladesh


Lesson 2 - Evaluating development indicators


Learning objectives:


- to be able to define the HDI

- to evaluate the effectiveness of different indicators including GNI per capita, life expectancy and the HDI


Problems with using wealth to measure development


- It may be easier to collect data in wealthy countries so the figures may be more accurate for wealthy countries than for poorer ones

- The figures are only an average for each country and they don't give any insight into inequality in the country

- The data only measures products that are bought and sold - this doesn't include food grown by farmers to feed their own families (this is an important part of production in many developing countries)

- Developing countries often have lots of people working in the informal cash economy - their work is not recorded officially and so it is difficult to estimate the value of it.


Problems with using life expectancy to measure development


- there is often a big difference between life expectancy in rural and urban areas in developing countries; this may be because rural areas have fewer doctors per 1000 people; it may be because access to clean water is typically lower in rural areas

- war can lead to a fall in life expectancy



What is the HDI?


The United Nations has developed the HDI - Human Development Index - as a composite indicator of development. This means that it tries to measure more than just one thing. The HDI combines economic and social indicators. The calculation itself is complex - you need to be aware that the index runs from 0 (totally undeveloped) to 1 (totally developed). The HDI includes:


Standard of living - measured by GNI per capita

A long and healthy life - measured by life expectancy

Knowledge - a combination of the number of years spent at school and the adult literacy rate


The UN classifies countries as follows:


High human development - HDI 0.800 and over

Medium human development - HDI between 0.500 and 0.799

Low human development - HDI under 0.500


Disadvantages of using the HDI to measure development


- Some people also believe that the political health of a country is an important factor in its development, which includes freedom of speech and demonstration. The HDI does not cover this.

- Social gaps between people in the country are not covered - the HDI calculates an average.





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