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Social Modules

This is a brief introduction to social issues of sustainable development. When you have finished reading, you can start exploring the Population Growth Rate and Life Expectancy learning modules.

The goal of sustainable development is to improve living standards and the quality of people’s lives, both now and for future generations. Social issues are an important piece of the development "puzzle."

The need for social services is universal

All people in a society must have access to certain basic goods and services in order to lead healthy, fulfilling and productive lives. Education and training must be available, so that everyone has the chance to earn a decent living and learn new skills. Girls must have the same opportunity as boys to go to school or to get jobs. Women must have access to basic family planning services and adequate health care and nutrition for themselves and their children. The elderly must receive the medical care, social security and pensions they need to support themselves as they grow older. Ensuring fair access to basic services is an essential task of governments around the world.

Local issues/global issues

Social concerns in one country can have impacts that reach beyond national borders. For example, unequal access to education or lack of job opportunities can lead people to migrate. This may cause profound changes in the country they leave, as it adjusts to the loss of certain groups. And the countries in which immigrants settle may face the challenges of increasing demands on educational and health care systems, as well as of integrating diverse groups into society. Increasingly, the social concerns of one country may affect other countries around the world.

Linking social sector issues with the economic and the environmental sectors

Social sector issues are closely linked to economic issues such as poverty. In any society, it is the poor who are least likely to receive adequate health care, education, and family planning services. Higher birth rates may result, making it difficult for these families to meet their basic needs and break out of the cycle of poverty. Social issues are also linked with environmental concerns. In many countries, contaminated water and polluted air are responsible for an increase in water-borne diseases and respiratory problems, all of which place an extra burden on local health care systems.

It is only when information about social conditions is combined with economic and environmental data that the full impact of development decisions on the quality of life can be understood. In order for countries to meet the needs of their people now and in the long term, governments must develop policies that balance social needs with both economic growth and environmental protection.

Social indicators

One way of measuring a country's level of development is to look at social data such as the population growth rate, which measures the increase in a country’s population and reflects the number of births and deaths and people migrating into and out of the country. As you explore the Population Growth Rate and Life Expectency learning modules, what other types of social data and information would help you better understand how people live in a particular country? What kinds of economic and environmental data would give you a fuller picture of what life is like in that country?

Tools & Libraries
Click on the drop-down box beneath the indicator to select a learning tool to explore.
Population Growth Rate:
Life Expectancy at Birth:
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