Development is the process of growth or improvement. It may refer to a physical improvement such as getting bigger or growing taller, or it may refer to an intellectual improvement like learning new skills or knowledge. It can also refer to a business development, or it can be used in a political context such as developing a plan for an area of the country.
During the second half of the twentieth century, a new focus on development emerged in response to the realization that economic growth by itself did not lead to a rise in people’s level or quality of life worldwide. This new focus centered on the importance of developing specific policies that would channel resources and provide opportunity for all people.
The scientific field of development, sometimes called developmental psychology, examines changes and stability across multiple domains of human functioning. It also investigates how biological and neurophysiological processes affect cognitive, emotional, and moral development throughout the lifespan.
Researchers who study human development generally agree that both nature and nurture contribute to our growth. The nature of our growth is based on genetics and heredity, while nurture is determined by the environment in which we live. There are also sociocultural theorists who believe that development occurs within the framework of a particular culture.
Countries can be rated for their level of development by measuring their gross national income per capita. This measure includes the amount of money a nation earns from its citizens, plus other factors such as literacy rates and life expectancy. Developed nations typically have higher GNIs than developing nations. Development can also mean a society’s ability to build relationships with other societies around the world through international trade.