Development indicators

One of the key questions to ask about development is the standard of living of the people who live in a country. There are many different ways to measure the quality of life or level of development of a place. These are called development indicators.

Economic indicators that affect standard of living

IndicatorsExamples of measures
WealthGross Domestic Product (GDP) - the total value of all goods and services produced in a country
Gross National Product (GNP) - GDP plus earnings from foreign investment
GNP per capita - GNP divided by the total population
JobsThe types of jobs people do differ between countries. In more economically developed countries (MEDCs) more people work in tertiary and quaternary jobs. In less economically developed countries (LEDCs) more people work in primary jobs such as farming and secondary jobs such as manufacturing.
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Key terms
  • Primary - The primary sector involves extracting raw materials, rearing animals and growing crops.
  • Secondary - A type of industry where raw materials are made into something. Often called 'manufacturing'.
  • Tertiary - Providing services and includes retail, tourism, education, health and banking.
  • Quaternary - The section of employment that is knowledge-based, eg ICT and research.

Social indicators that affect standard of living

IndicatorsMeasuresStatistics
HealthLife expectancyUK = 80, Afghanistan = 45
Death rate: deaths per 1,000 per yearAustralia = 6.4, Mozambique = 18.8
Infant mortality rateSweden = 2.5, Pakistan 75.2
Birth rate: births per 1,000 per yearGermany = 8.1, Malawi = 37.9
EducationPercentage in primary education
Literacy rateKorea = 100%, Mali = 26%
EqualityEqual opportunities for women
Fair distribution of wealth
Freedom of speech, eg people can vote

(Population and Vital Statistics Report, UN, updated March 2011)

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Key terms
  • Life expectancy - The average number of years a person is expected to live in a particular place.
  • Infant mortality rate - The number of children who die before the age of one.
  • Literacy rate - Percentage of people who can read and write.