Evaluate the Usefulness of a Range of Criteria Available for Measuring

Development is ‘the use of resources and the application of available technology in order to bring about an increased standard of living within a country’. *1

There are variations in the economic development of different countries; this has lead to the formation of the ‘Development Gap’. In 1980, the Brandt Report divided the world into rich (North) and poor (South) sectors and found that in developing countries more than 800 million are impoverished and 17 million die needlessly before they are five years old. 25 per cent of the world’s population live in the north but consume 80 per cent of all the goods made.

Over the years there has been a wide range of criteria used for measuring development. These measures have included GNP which is used when looking at the wealth of a country and GNP per capita which looks at the wealth of a country when divided by the number of people.

There are specific measures, for example number of people per doctor, adult literacy, food intake and birth & death rates. These are useful measures when looking at specific areas of development but are too specific when dealing with development as a whole.

HDI is also used to bridge the gap between GNP and the other specific measures. It is made up by using a range of data.

This report will investigate which measures are the most useful at giving a true and fair view of how fast development is taking place in a sample of countries and the reasons for this. The countries used (as shown on appendix 2: a world map) were selected by choosing every seventh country from appendix 1, The World: Social and Economic Statistics)

*1 Source: Letts, A2 in a week: Geography.


The Gross National Product (GNP) of a country is one of the most recognisable measures of development. It is an estimate of the value of the countries production and measures the value of goods and services provided in a country, plus the balance of income from abroad.

Until it is split by the population of the country (creating GNP per capita) GNP it is not an accurate measure of development. This is because one country with 7 million people could have the same output as a poorer country with 700 million people.

HDI was devised by the United Nations and ranks all countries, taking into account their national income, life expectancy, adult literacy and year’s people spend in education, which in themselves could be used as measures of development. It is a measure of national human progress. It is measured on a scale of between 0 and 1 with the more developed countries near 1 and the least developed countries nearer 0.

Food Intake is the average number of calories a person consumes per day. The more developed a country is the more calories are person is likely to intake, as food is more readily available.

Adult Literacy is the percentage of males and females that are unable to read or write a simple sentence. Again, the more developed a country is the lower this figure will be.

In more developed countries there tend to be more doctors per a smaller section of society, so health care tends to be better, this could lengthen life expectancy of a country.

The semi-log graph shows that countries with a high GNP per capita tend to have a low doctors per population figure but for those countries with a low GNP there is no pattern for doctors per population, with Burkina Faso having a GNP of US$ 180 and having 34804 people per doctor where as the Gambia has a GNP per capita of US$ 320 but Gambians have 1400 people per doctor.

The only apparent anomaly on this graph was for the data for Mozambique that has a GNP of US$ 2000 and 36225 people per doctor. In relation to Togo, they have fewer doctors per person but a higher GNP.

This could have been because in 1975 the government, nationalized health services and so doctors that were practicing for profit may have stopped practicing as they did not want to practice in a nationalized health service.

In 1985 Mozambique, was effected by drought leading to a loss of 25% of all grain produced, leading to mass starvation, so people with specialist qualifications such as doctors may have found employment in other countries in order to keep their families from starving. This is likely to have been similar in 1991 when the country was affected by drought again.

The Gambia

The Gambia is a LEDC in West Africa. The Gambia has a GNP of US$ 354 million, this is extremely low when compared to US$ 1094734 million but when split between the 1.2 million inhabitants equaling a GNP per capital of US$ 320 million, where as Britain’s GNP per capita when split between its 268 million inhabitants is US$ 18700 million, so Gambia’s GNP per Capita is relatively very low as well.

The Gambia’s GNP is split, 1.8% spent on health (Britain sends 2.5 times this amount on health care), 2.7% spent on education (half of what Britain spends) and 3.8% spent on the military (which is 0.7% more than Britain, but of a smaller figure so Britain is spending more money on its military, just a lesser percentage).

Gambians take in approximately 2360 calories per day and have 1400 people per doctor. This compares to 3732 calories per day and 421 people per doctor in Britain.

In the 1980’s there was a sudden drop in the production of agricultural exports due to several severe drought. This led to an increase in unemployment, migration to the capital and an increase in foreign dept to import food. In 1993 agriculture and tourism was hit by the consequences of the European economic crisis.

The Gambia’s trade with Senegal was also damaged when the Central Bank of Western African States decided to stop financing trade. The economy is now improving due to a developing tourist industry with new hotels being built to capitalize on the European tourist.


Cuba has a GNP of US$ 13700 million but with a population of 11.3 million its GNP per capita is US$ 1250 million. Although Cuba has a higher GNP than Gambia, it also has a larger population to share it between, although Cuba’s GNP per capita is still high.

Cuba’s GNP until 1990 relied on highly upon the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries and so with the fall of communism, Cuba’s GNP will have fallen.

Its 1994 Cuba’s HDI position was 0.723, this in relation to The Gambia is high because the Gambia’s HDI is only 0.281, but in comparison to Sweden Cuba has a low HDI as Sweden’s HDI is 0.936; while Cuba’s population food intake (in calories per day) is 2833. There are 275 people per doctor; this could be because Cuba spends 7.9% of its GNP on health services.

In the 1960’s the Cuban government, under their leader Castro, ran campaigns to free Cuba of illiteracy and improve health services and by 1964 the illiteracy campaign was complete and Cuba was free of illiteracy. Cuba could remain free of illiteracy today because they spend 6.6% of their GNP on education.

The military budget will have been gradually reduced over recent years after the threat from the United States of America had subsided after the Cold Was finished, and now only 2.8% of the GNP is spent on the military.

Now Cuba is been advertised as a tourist destination, this will help to raise their GNP as there will be more money coming into the country, which can then go into services such as health, benefiting the whole of the country.


Ethiopia (an LEDC in Africa) has a GNP of US$ 5722 million, this figure is lower than that for Cuba but higher than that for the Gambia (another LEDC in Africa) and a GNP per capita of US$ 100 million when split between the 58.5 million inhabitants. The Gross National Product has been split 1.1% on health, 6.4% on education and 2.1% on their military.

Ethiopians take in approximately 1610 calories per day, this shows that many people in Ethiopia suffer from malnutrition. There are 32499 people per doctor, which is very high compared to Cuba, which only has 275 people per doctor; this is possibly because not much of the GNP is spent on health care.

In 1984 Ethiopia was badly affected by drought and famine, this had started 2 years earlier and caused hundreds of thousands of people to die from starvation. It also caused the crops for those years to fail and so there was nothing to sell causing GNP to fall dramatically.

In the late 80’s Ethiopia was involved in a civil war that consumed more than 60% of Ethiopia’s national budget and agriculture was still slumping.

United States

With a GNP of US$ 7100007 million, the United States of America has the largest GNP of all countries (22187 that of The Gambia’s) but when split between its 268 million nationals its GNP per capita equates to US$ 26980 million, this is lower than that of Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Japan. This GNP is then split down into 14.3% on health services, 5.5% on education and 3.8% on its military forces.

The US has a HDI rating of 0.942 and the American people consume 3732 calories per day, which is the most after Ireland and Cyprus. American’s have 421 people per doctor, which is double the number of people per doctor in Austria.

A high GNP could be as a result of American Transnational companies which spread around the world in the post Second World War period. In 1991, 15% of the US population lived below the poverty line. Those most affected were those citizens from African and Latin American origins.

In January 1994, the US joined with Mexico and Canada to form The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which reduced trade with Europe as Americans found it cheaper to buy and sell to Canada and Mexico.

Tourism is the biggest industry in the US but after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, visitor numbers fell dramatically, having a significant effect on the American economy as people were scared to travel in case of reprisals. More recently, visitor numbers have fallen as a result of the conflict in Iraq as people feared more terrorist attacks to revenge the invasion of Iraq.

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