Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Year 11 - An introduction to development

What is development?

Development almost means the same as ‘wealth’. Although wealth is an economic factor, variations in wealth affect quality of life, health, literacy and housing, which are examples of social conditions. Therefore development can be measured by both economic and social factors.

Countries can be observed at being at different levels of developement. We often categorise countries as 'developing' or 'developed'. The developing countries are known as Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDC), whilst the developed countries are known as More Economically Developed Countries (MEDC). Of course it is almost impossible to split countries into either of these categories, but various methods of measurement are used to assess whether a country is an MEDC or LEDC.

Location of MEDC's and LEDC's

Although it is difficult to split MEDC's and LEDC's, the diagram above displays the Noth/South divide that tends to separate the two. MEDC's are mainly located in the northern hemisphere and dominate the continents of North America and Europe. The exception to this rule is Australasia, which is located in the sothern hemisphere. Japan is seen as the only representative from Asia, though this is changing rapidly. The LEDC's are located mainly in the couthern hemisphere and dominate the continents of Africa, South America and Asia.
As mainly Asian countries continue to industrialise this image will be subject to change as we see increased wealth in countries such as China.
Measuring Development
GNP (Gross National Product) per person is the most widely used indicator of a country’s level of development. It is the US dollar value of a country’s final output of goods and services in a year, divided by its population.

GNP is a more relaible indicator of wealth in MEDC’s than LEDCs for two reasons:

1.The statistics for working it out are more likely to be readily available and more accurate.

2.Only the values of products sold are included in its calculation. Food produced by farmers for subsistence purposes (to feed themselves and their families) does not have a recorded money value. In LEDCs, farming remains the main occupation, so it is likely that the GNP represents and undervaluation for poor countries.
There are various further measures of a countries level of development. These include factors such as:
Birth rate - The number of live births per 1000 of population.
Death rate - The number of deaths per 1000 of population.
Infant mortality - The number of deaths in babies before the age of 1 per 1000 of population.
Adult Literacy rate - The percentage of people over the age of 15 who can read.
Number of people per doctor - The average number of people for each doctor.
Population with access to safe water - The percentage of people with a safe water supply nearby.
Food consumption - Food intake in calories per day, minimum 2000.
Urban population - The percentage of people who live in cities.
Children in primary school - The percentage of children under 11 who go to school.
Energy consumption - The average amount of fuel used by one person in a year. Measured in kilograms of oil.

Follow up links

BBC GCSE Bitesize geography: What is development?

Cyber School Bus InfoNation website. Allows you to compare development indicators for upto 6 countries.