Development Indicators

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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 believe that the political health of a country is an important factor in its development, alongside freedom of speech and demonstration.

Development can be measured in many different ways, and the main development points are listed below:

  • Employment
  • Poverty
  • Health
  • Education
  • Social Cohesion
  • Safety and Security
  • Good Governance

Aspects of Development that cannot be measured:

  • Freedom
  • Security
  • Sustainability
  • Conservation


If you were to judge a country’s development by its economic status then its GNP (Gross National Product) and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would be good measures. 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 despite this, the living conditions, health care and education are poor there.


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 through adult literacy rate & 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 helps reduce any anomalies. The PQLI is very similar to the HDI, however the PQLI includes infant mortality and is measured between 0 and 100.

Problems with Development Indicators

The development indicators above all have their advantages and disadvantages, and the main problems with them are that they only focus on certain aspects of development i.e. social, economic, political or even environmental. Because of this there tend to be countries which will rank highly due to a particular part of their country but realistically aren’t as good as other countries when viewed holistically.

Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Development Indicators". Geography Revision. Accessed on October 19, 2021.

  • "Development Indicators". Geography Revision, Accessed 19 October, 2021.

  • Development Indicators. Geography Revision. Retrieved from