Growth and Development

Prasad requested a bit more on the distinction between development and growth. Consider the life-cycle of a normal human being. The initial stages are marked by growth and development; the later stages by a cessation of growth but continued development (hopefully). Growth, apart from that required in the initial stages, is neither necessary nor sufficient for development. One can have one without the other.

Growth is characterized by an increase in the physical system. Development, a more generalized concept, is characterized by an evolution of a more balanced and enriched system. Because growth is primarily physical, there are limits to growth but not to development.

The development of a child is accompanied with growth. The growth of an adult is not necessarily a good thing. It could lead to obesity. Growth gone haywire is what cancer is all about.

Carrying the distinction over to the economic sphere, we can say that poor countries need both growth and development. But beyond a certain point, growth can be detrimental to development.

For India to develop, we do need growth in some areas and in some other areas we need a cessation of growth. We need to increase economic output but we need to check the unsustainable population growth.

3 thoughts on “Growth and Development

  1. Prasad Boddupalli Thursday March 18, 2004 / 7:00 am

    Thanks Atanu, for confirming my understanding of growth and development.

    However, I believe that the solution to the problem of development without growth is needed by so-called developed nations such as US and Japan as well. Not just economically underdeveloped countries such as India. That too, right now. Japan laid expressways by the side of existing ones just to kickstart their sluggish economy. Can there be anything more insane than that?! Colossal environmental destruction !!

    Thanks to the division of labor, everyone has to produce something to earn his bread and butter. When I said he/she has to produce something, I am referring to physical goods. The above Japanese expressways is a case in point.

    So, I think that in countries like US, the extreme form of division of labor, which we see today might have to be toned down (may be significantly) to lead to a more sustainable mode of living. I might be wrong or might be missing a piece in the puzzle. In this context I found J.C. Kumarappa’s economic thought very convincing. I am not sure if you read any of his ideas but would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Division of Labor’ and how it can achieve or defeat a solution to the problem of Growth without Development.



  2. aaron khanna Tuesday March 27, 2007 / 10:30 pm

    all i can say is thanx to u 2 make a difference between development and growth

    thank u


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