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What is the development gap? and how is it measured?

The development gap refers to the widening gap between the richest (most developed) and poorest (least developed) countries of the world. Development in this sense can be referred to as either economic development where the county has an increase in wealth, or human development where quality of life is improved for the people who live there.

There are many measures that can help us to understand development. Economic development is measured either by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita or GNI (Gross National Income) per capita. It is important to understand the difference between GDP and GNI. GDP refers to the total value of all goods and services produced by a country in a year. GNI is similar to GDP except that as well as taking into account the total value of goods and services produced by a country, it also includes the income that the country earns as a result of investments in other countries. Per capita means that the total number generated from a measure (eg. GDP or GNI) is then divided by the population of the country to give the final figure. In 1981 a map was created based on GDP per capita where an imaginary line (the Brandt line) was used to divide the map into ‘the rich North’ and ‘the poor South’. This was where it was noted that the countries with the highest GDP per capita were generally in the Northern Hemisphere, and those with the lowest GDP were generally in the Southern Hemisphere.

Human development is measured by using the Human Development Index (HDI) which takes into account life expectancy, literacy and GDP per capita. These are useful indicators to take into account, however others can also be used to measure human development. These include the Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) and the Technology Achievement Index (TAI) among others. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are helpful in giving us an idea about what is happening to the development gap. They are a set of 17 goals set by the United Nations with the aim to achieve global sustainable development by 2030. They include goals such as ‘No Poverty’ and ‘Quality Education’ which can also be useful in measuring a country’s development. 

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