Human development

There are 2 slightly different definition I found on human development.

  • "Human development is the continuous chronological processes or changes that occur as a human being grows and matures from a single-celled zygote into an adult." (
  • "Human development is the study of how people develop on physical, intellectual and social levels. It probes the different stages of life to better understand how people work." (

The term human development is often used as a substitute for developmental psychology which is "the scientific study of systematic psychological changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span." (

To summarize I say that human development is the continual process by which an individual matures over their lifespan in all areas of his life. It can be viewed also as the process of achieving an optimum level of health and well-being. It includes physical, biological, mental, emotional, social, educational, economic, and cultural components. Only some of these are expressed in the Human Development Index, a composite scale that has three dimensions: life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate and mean years of schooling, and income as measured by real gross domestic product per capita. Like all one-dimensional scales that attempt to measure multiple complex variables, it is flawed by inherent inaccuracies, but it is nonetheless a useful comparative measure of the well-being of a population.

Human Development Index (HDI)

  • A summary composite index that measures a country's average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living where
    • Longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth;
    • knowledge is measured by a combination of the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio
    • standard of living is measured by GDP per capita.

The Human Development Index , reported in the Human Development Report of the United Nations, is an indication of where a country is development wise. The index can take value between 0 and 1.

  • High Human Development group (countries with HDI > 0.8)
  • Medium Human Development (0.5 < countries with HDI < 0.8)
  • Low Human Development (countries with HDI < 0.5) (

Human Development Reports (HDR)

  • is an independent report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and it's goal being of putting people at the centre of the development process rather than markets and other economic processes.

The report was first launched in 1990 with the goal was to go beyond income in assessing the level of people's long-term well-being. The UNDP believe that such an approach is an effort to bring about development of the people, by the people, and for the people, and emphasising that the scopes of development are freedoms and choices, not simply economic growth. The philosophy behind this onset was to highlight that it is not central the level of income when examining development, but the use and freedom to use that income to live the lives people value.

Each year the HDR examines a topic relating to human development. Topics in the last years (HDR is in 2010 at 20th Edition): human rights (2000), the Millennium Development Goals (2003), cultural liberty (2004), water scarcity (2006), climate change (2007/2008), overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development (2009).

The 1990 HDR defined human development as "a process of enlarging people's choices". This in turn requires the freedom of people to make their choices and the opportunities to realize them. This definition has been used in HDRs to look at a range of the key global issues of our time, such as globalization, gender equality, human rights and climate change that facilitate or impede human development. The concept has evolved and adapted as the world has changed, but the fundamental element of making people the centre of development remains.

Some of the issues and themes currently considered most central to human development include:

  • Social progress - greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services.
  • Economics – the importance of economic growth as a means to reduce inequality and improve levels of human development.
  • Efficiency - in terms of resource use and availability. human development is pro-growth and productivity as long as such growth directly benefits the poor, women and other marginalized groups.
  • Equity - in terms of economic growth and other human development parameters.
  • Participation and freedom - particularly empowerment, democratic governance, gender equality, civil and political rights, and cultural liberty, particularly for marginalized groups defined by urban-rural, sex, age, religion, ethnicity, physical/mental parameters, etc.
  • Sustainability - for future generations in ecological, economic and social terms.
  • Human security - security in daily life against such chronic threats as hunger and abrupt disruptions including joblessness, famine, conflict, etc. (

Subcategories for human development
  • Components of human development
    • Physical
    • Biological
    • Mental
    • Emotional
    • Social
    • Educational
    • Economic
    • Cultural
  • Approaches
    • The capabilities approach
    • The dynamic system approach
  • Theorists and theories
    • Piagetian stages of cognitive development
    • Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory
    • Ecological Systems Theory
    • Attachment theory
    • Nature/nurture
    • Mechanisms of development
  • Research areas
    • Cognitive development
    • Social and emotional development
  • Research methods
    • Methods and techniques
    • Research design
  • Stages of development
    • Pre-natal development
    • Infancy
    • Babyhood
    • Early childhood
    • Late Childhood
    • Adolescence
    • Early adulthood
    • Middle age
    • Old age
  • Other findings
    • Parenting
    • Marriage and Family
    • Human sexuality
    • Gerontology

At the end of this article - enjoy these wonderful quote on human development:

"All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual" Albert Einstein

"Human development can simply mean the capacity of an individaul or a society to live better than it's preceding generation."

"A new vision of development is emerging. Development is becoming a people-centered process, whose ultimate goal must be the improvement of the human condition."

"What is virtue? It is to hold yourself to your fullest development as a person and as a responsible member of the human community" - Arthur Dobrin


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