‘Development’ is a troublesome term to interpret as attested to by Sylvia Chant and Cathy Mcllwaine (2009, pp2) who say development is “uneven, contradictory and complex”[1]. They refer to development as being a “complex, contradictory and powerful term that takes on particular meanings in the context of specific intellectual, institutional and political moments”[2].

The concept of development has changed over time having started with a bias towards economic progress determined by measuring a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 1950s. This measurement eventually progressed to measuring GDP per capita in order to more accurately present a country’s economic progress in relation to its population size.

Thinkers like Goulet in 1971 and institutions like the UNDP in the late 1980s further define development as being more than just a “synonym for economic growth[3]. Their concepts denoted the importance of ascertaining the extent to which countries meet the basic social, economic and political needs of their citizens and helped change the focus of development analysis from nations to individuals.

[1] Geographies of Development in the 21st Century’ (Introduction, Page 2)

[2] Geographies of Development in the 21st Century’ (Chapter 1, Page 13)

[3] Geographies of Development in the 21st Century’ (Chapter 1, Page 14)

Source: Forbes http://blogs-images.forbes.com/evapereira/files/2011/01/Developed_and_developing_countries3.png