The term development describes change, usually good change. It’s widely used to describe the growth of a new idea or a business, but it also applies to social change.
Countries are generally considered to be developed or underdeveloped according to their per capita income, which is measured by the amount of goods and services a country produces each year divided by the number of people in that country. As countries develop, their economies become more diverse and the need for raw materials such as food and oil diminishes. This allows developing nations to export finished goods, such as computer software, to countries that need them to grow and sustain their own economies.
In addition to economic progress, some governments seek to improve the lives of their citizens. Countries that want to be considered “developed” often look for ways to balance economic growth with a focus on equality and environmental sustainability.
Another type of development involves changing an individual’s behavior and characteristics. This is the subject of lifespan development, also known as developmental psychology. Lifespan theorists hold that people’s development is shaped by several factors. These include normative history-graded influences, such as the age group to which they belong, and non-normative, or situational, influences, like an illness or the death of a loved one. The study of development is complex, but it provides a framework for addressing many of the world’s most challenging problems today. Whether you’re a manager interested in helping employees grow professionally or an advocate for improving the environment, it’s important to understand development and how it can be achieved.