11 June 2010

The Unfortunate Eye-Glazing Tendency of Economic Development

Economic development sounds like such a dry and abstract topic. That’s unfortunate. Economic development can mean the difference between a mother crying as her child goes off to college or crying as her child dies in her arms. Poverty brings with it so much grief and prosperity so much possibility. The potential for a human life is vastly different at higher and lower stages of economic development.

As I would define it, no topic has such a pervasive influence on the lives of people. Economic development is not just a matter of getting more goods but of giving people more options. At its most dramatic, economic development gives people the option to eat rather than starve. At its more nuanced, in developed countries, it gives people options about how to define their own lives. In the poorest countries, it can mean life. In the richer countries, it can give meaning to life.

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