Economic Development: Definition and Understanding
Economic development means different things to different people. It also signifies distinct and variable aspects to governments and economic scholars. However, they all boil down to almost the same conclusion. Economic development encompasses growth and incremental measures in many fields of the economy. Economic growth and development mean different things. It is even though they are somewhat related and economic growth effects, to some extent, the rate of economic development.
In defining economic development, economists and social scientists have in place some measures. It includes the standard of living, purchasing power, infrastructural growth, among others. All the above-mentioned vary from one country to another. Furthermore, there is no standard for the calculation of economic development. All the above measures are quite different from one economy to another.
The above analysis means that a developed country has grown in many of its sectors. Its citizens enjoy better salaries, better health care, and immeasurable levels of satisfaction in their jobs, clean water, high-end roads, and open democracies. Therefore, most of the time, they happen to be the parameters of economic development. Countries on the lower-end are in a constant race towards attaining this level in their economies.
The high-end economies lack resources and, thus, in many cases, depending on the low-end economies for the all-important raw materials. These countries, therefore, attain high gross domestic product (GDP). Although economic growth, which is measured by calculating the level of output of a country, is not symmetrical to the level of economic wellbeing, it somehow affects the latter. Economic growth means that there is more money in the economy.
Citizens of that country feel free to spend some money, and hence they spur production from other sectors of the economy, which in essence drives development in those sectors. This relationship, however, may be idealistic. Many economies that have raw materials but lack the necessary manpower to enhance production to influence development. This lack of technical skills means that a country misses out on an opportunity to be self-reliant. It is especially very common in Africa. The continent is very rich in raw materials but lacking in the ability to exploit that to its advantage. A situation ensues whereby only a small number of people in those countries enjoy the vast wealth in those countries. This minimal wealth distribution smothers the growth of the development of those economies.
There is no particular definition of economic development. It is true because there is no specific way to ascertain the development status of a country. Modernization and social growth are, however, the parameters most scholars use to measure development in a country. This rate country according to standards of living, wealth distribution, social statuses of people, and political stability, among others.
Therefore, it follows that development is not a specific area in the state of a country. Rather, it is a measure of well-being in almost all its aspects. In conclusion, it means that there is no strict definition of economic development in light of the factors that are considered in its measure. If a country is befallen by a tragedy that greatly affects the standards of living of its people, it does not mean that its economic status plummets. It further cements that argument.
Diversity of Developing Countries and Development Theory
Most developing countries are in a constant race towards the attainability of middle-income or high-income economies. These economies are christened the developed countries. ‘Developed’ in this case means that: relative to their partners in the developing countries, they are ahead on many fronts. The developed countries, for example, have better democracies, high-level infrastructure, and per capita incomes are unbeatable.
Developing countries in their quest to attain the middle-income statuses are dogged by differing problems. For example, the problems facing the Kenyan economy is not the same as the problems facing Somalia. These two East African countries are rated as the third world, but the Kenyan economy is doing far much better. Development wise Kenya is ahead on many fronts. Its education system is wonderful, per capita income high (though average in global terms), social security is commendable, and its democracy rating is good. In comparison, Somalia does not even have a stable government. It makes the rule of law a luxury.
Investors, therefore, are more likely to invest in Kenya than in Somalia. It is even though Kenya is not endowed with natural resources like Somalia. Kenya has prospects for oil, but it is not definite yet. Somalia has confirmed oil wealth which is not working towards its development. The same case applies to the newly born country of southern Sudan. This country has experienced instability for a long time. This has given a lot of opportunity to Kenya in terms of growth and development.
The above case is an example of how unique a problem in each country in the developing arena is facing. Step by step analysis of their development is not level, and this uniqueness means that their development is only measurable nationally. If, for example, Kenya’s problem is traffic jams within its cities, its citizens will note some development if plans were executed to eliminate that. If the major problem in a country like Somalia is constant fighting, then citizens would be grateful and see some development if the fighting was discontinued. Therefore, parameters of development are not universal, as are the parameters of growth.
When it comes to economic growth, it is simply a calculation of gross domestic product. However, development is more specific, and it comes even more specific from one country to another. It is not only applicable to the third world (developing) countries. Rather, it applies to all economies. The only difference is that in most developed countries most of their structures are somewhat similar. For example, education and remuneration levels.
However, if scholars were to look at the details, glaring sentiments would be seen. In the USA and Britain, which are developed countries, healthcare is miles apart. The United States recently overhauled its health care system to be inline with other developed countries, in particular Britain. However, that aspect does not make Britain more developed than the United States. If the same is applied to developing countries, a seemingly lesser problem like huge traffic in cities does not make a country more developed than a partner that cannot feed its people. All are labeled ‘developing countries’ in as much as their problems are so unique and seemingly miles apart.
In conclusion, developing countries are so unique in their problems. This uniqueness and diversity annul the possibility that there can be a unified theory of development. Development is a national matter and may mean different things to even individuals in those nationalities. For example, reduction of traffic may not be developed to a particular individual; who sees as if more revenue allocation to education is more crucial.