Development is the process of improving people’s quality of life, increasing their economic wealth and enhancing their living standards. Countries that are more developed tend to be richer and provide higher education, health care and jobs. They also provide more opportunities for international trade and business relations with other countries around the world.
Human Development, or Lifespan Development, is the scientific study of changes and stability across multiple domains of psychological and social functioning, including physical and neurophysiological processes, cognitive functions, emotion, personality, and morality.
Different developmental theories make assumptions about what causes growth, whether change is quantitative or qualitative, and if it is continuous or discontinuous. Some developmental theorists, like Freud, Erikson and Piaget, believe that development occurs in stages that are qualitatively distinct from one another. These theories are called stage theories, and they assume that development is continuous.
Other development theories, such as maturational meta-theories (based on the biological theories of behavioral genetics, sociobiology, ethological, and evolutionary psychology) and temperament theory, assume that growth is caused by innate, immutable characteristics. These theories are called maturational meta-theories because they make assumptions about how adults become mature.
Sustainability is a key aspect of development. The most common definition of sustainable development, from the World Commission on Environment and Development, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.” This implies that we need to develop with a greater regard for earth as a life-support system. This is often challenging because of the limited availability of natural resources and the anthropocentric view that human beings are primary beneficiaries of development.