Development Indicators

The UNDP (UN development programme) describes development as: ‘the three essentials of development include the ability to lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge, and to have a decent standard of life’.

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.

Development can be measured in many different ways (as shown in the diagram below).

Main development points:
Social Cohesion
Safety and Security
Good Governance

Aspects of Development that cannot be measured:


If you were to judge a countries development by its economic status then its GNP (Gross National Product) and GDP would fit accurately. These measure the net income of a country and, though they can be very effective, don’t take into consideration the living standards of the country. For example with Saudi Arabia, with a high GDP it ranks well on a global scale but its living conditions, health care and education are poor.


The HDI (Human Development Index) is a way to measure well being within a country. This is mainly a social measurement because it takes into consideration education, which is adult literacy rate and years of schooling, health care which is judged by life expectancy and finally the economic factor of GDP. The HDI measures each of these factors between 0 and 1, one being the best. The HDI is a very useful measure of development because it includes economic and social indicators which reduces any anomalies. The PQLI is very similar to the HDI but it includes infant mortality and it’s measured between 0 and 100.

Problems with Development Indicators

The development indicators above all have their advantages and disadvantages, the main problems with them are that they only focus on certain aspects of development, socal, economic, political or even enironmental. Because of this there tend to be countries with will rank highly due to part of their country but realistically aren’t as good as another country.