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In this lesson we will consider exactly what we mean by the term development and begin to identify some of the difficulties in creating an agreed definition.

Activity One:
Place the following countries in a hierarchy of development - from most developed to least developed. Working in groups, you have 10 minutes to complete this task. DO NOT LOOK AT THE LISTS UNDER ACTIVITY 2 AT THIS POINT.



  1. How difficult did you find this activity?
  2. What criteria did you use to rank the countries?
  3. How did you interpret the term 'development'?
  4. If you used a different definition of development then how might your hierarchy be different?

Activity 2

So, we can see that defining development is difficult to do and, depending on the way in which we define development, we can produce some very different hierarchies. Take a look at these lists which measure development by considering GDP per capita (PPP). How do they compare to your original list?

What about if we measure development in terms of human development? How do these lists compare to your original hierarchy? These lists are based on an index called the Human Development Index (HDI) - don't worry if this seems a little bit confusing for now. We'll look at it in more detail later. For now, all you need to know is that HDI is based on three factors - wealth, education and life expectancy.

Activity 3
Now that we have considered two ways in which development is measured, do you want to make any changes to your original hierarchy? Check out this video which summarises some of the difficulties in operationalising development as a concept.


Activity 4
Sometimes, it seems like we get a little bit hung up on thinking about development in mainly economic terms. But what about if we think of development differently? How about if we think of development in terms of happiness? Check out this list and see what you think. How does it compare to your hierarchy?

Activity 5
As a group, create your own definition of development, taking into account everything we have discussed this lesson.