The underlying premise of this book is that in order for development to be sustainable, it has to
be comprehensive—it has to successfully balance economic goals with social and environmental. “Development” is
really much more than simply economic growth. The understanding of development can differ among countries
and even among individuals, but it usually goes far beyond the objective of increased average income
to include things like freedom, equity, health, education, safe environment, and much more. Hence the
title of this book: “Beyond Economic Growth.”
By publishing this book, the Development Education Program (DEP) of the World Bank Institute (WBI)
seeks to help more people understand that in the present-day globalized world international development
should be everyone’s concern because it affects everyone’s life. Ordinary people including
youth—not just economists and development experts—should be prepared to discuss and participate
in making decisions on the most pressing issues of sustainable development, proceeding from their own
cherished values and based on reliable data and information from reputable international sources (like
the World Bank and the UN specialized development agencies).
This book is designed to introduce readers to some major challenges in today’s sustainable development
(from the global to the national and perhaps even to the local level) and help them gain a more holistic
and realistic view of their country’s situation in a global context. Because development is a
comprehensive process involving economic as well as social and environmental changes, this book takes
an interdisciplinary approach. It attempts to explain some complex relationships among various aspects
of development, including population growth, economic growth, improvements in education and health,
industrialization and postindustrialization, environmental degradation, and globalization. Young people
and learners of all ages, teachers and students, are invited to explore these relationships even further--using
the statistical data and theoretical concepts presented in this book—and to engage in informed
discussions of the controversial development issues closest to their hearts. “An Invitation to
a Global Discussion” could be another appropriate subtitle for this book.
Difficult Questions, Different Answers
The book starts with three difficult questions: What is development? How can we compare the levels
of development achieved by different countries? And what does it take to make development sustainable?
The author does not claim to have all the answers to these and other controversial questions posed
directly or indirectly in the book. Instead, readers are encouraged to suggest their own answers based
on facts—necessary for understanding the constraints of reality-- but inevitably rooted in personal
value judgments determining different relevant weights attached to certain goals and costs of development
by different people. For example, for some people development means primarily higher incomes, for others,
a cleaner environment. Some are most interested in personal security, others, in personal freedom.
Note that these goals and values are not always easily compatible—faster economic growth may
be more damaging to the natural environment and a strengthening of personal security may require limiting
some personal freedoms. The abundance of such tradeoffs in development is one of the reasons why there
are so many open questions in this book.
Acknowledging that many answers inevitably involve value judgments, which makes absolute objectivity
impossible, the author has based this book on one simple ideological principle: development should
be a tool for improving the lives of all people. It is up to people (including the readers of this
book) to define for themselves the meaning of a better life and to prioritize the goals of development
and the means of their achievement.
Perhaps the main attraction of this book is that it is based on plentiful statistical data for most
countries, presented in data tables in Annex 2 as well as in figures, maps, and references in the text.
Statistics can be powerful tools for learning about development. They can help paint a more accurate
picture of reality, identify issues and problems, and suggest possible explanations and solutions.
But statistics have their limitations too. They are more reliable for some countries than for others.
They often allow very different interpretations, particularly when considered in isolation from other
important statistics. And because it takes a long time to collect and verify some statistics (particularly
on a global scale), they may seem to be or really be out of date before they are even published. It
is also important to remember that many aspects of development cannot be accurately measured by statistics.
Examples include people's attitudes, feelings, values, ideas, freedoms, and cultural achievements.
Thus statistical data can tell us only part of the story of development—but it is an important
Note that comparing development data on your country with those on other countries can be extremely
revealing for several reasons. First, seeing one's country in a global context and learning how it
is different from or similar to other countries can improve understanding of the country's present-day
status and of its development prospects and priorities. Second, because the economies of the world
are becoming increasingly interdependent, development processes in each country can usually be better
understood when studied in the context of their interaction with related processes in other countries.
. The author hopes that this book will help satisfy popular demand for information about global development
and at the same time help readers gain some new insights into their own country’s recent past,
present, and future.
The statistics presented here were the most recent available when this book was written. Most of the
data in the data tables, figures, and maps are from World Bank publications, including the World
Development Indicators (2000, 2001, 2003), the World Development Report (various years),
and other statistical and analytical studies. Figures 4.4 and 9.2 have been included with the permission
of the International Monetary Fund. Some data were also borrowed from the specialized United Nations
agencies, such as the UN Development Program, World Health Organization, and UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (as noted in the text).