Economic development ideally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of communities and policymakers that improve the standard of living and economic health of a specific locality. The definition of economic development given by Professor Michael Todaro is an increase in living conditions, improvement of the citizens self-esteem needs and free and a just society. He suggests that the most accurate method of measuring economic development is the Human Development Index which takes into account the literacy rates & life expectancy which in-turn has an outright impact on productivity and could lead to Economic Growth. However, economic development can also be measured by taking into account the GDI (gender related index).
Economic development can also be referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in an existing economy. Economic development involves development of human capital, increasing the literacy ratio, improve important infrastructure, improvement of health and safety and others areas that aims at increasing the general welfare of the citizens. The terms economic development and economic growth are used interchangeably but there is a very big difference between the two. Economic growth can be viewed as a sub category of economic development. Economic development is a government policy to increase the economic, social welfare and ensuring a stable political environment. Economic growth on the other hand is the general increase in the country products and services output.
Economic development will only be successful if the whole nation is willing to give their best efforts towards its achievement. A lot of theories have been forwarded by different schools of thought about how economic development should be achieved. Many economists have suggested that each country should try to achieve modernization and industrialization in order to achieve economic development.
There seems to be a lot of correlation between economic growth and human development. This can be explained by a simple example in an economy. We shall consider economic growth as a prerequisite for economic development. Assume we have a household in an economy that ekes their livelihood from a horticultural firm. Economic growth will bring business opportunities to the country and the effects spills over to all sectors of the economy. The firm will increase its profits which will in turn be used to pay for their generation education, improve the access to health care for that family and will increase the general living standard of the family. If this effect is replicated in each household overall economic development will be achieved.
Economic development leads to improvements in many sectors of a nation. There are a variety of indicators that economist use to measure the level of economic development in a country. The indicators are: declining poverty rates, increasing literacy rates, declining infant morbidity and increasing life expectancy. Economic development has to be supported by the whole nation from economists, politicians, and also civilians. Thus it can be concluded that, economic development leads to the creation of more opportunities in the sectors of education, health sector, research, human development and environmental conservation It equally implies an increase in the per capita income of every citizen.