Growth as human development is a paradigm that is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Growth is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value. And it is then about much more than economic growth, which is only a means —if a very important one —of enlarging people’s choices.
Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities —the range of things that people can do or be in life. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.
This way of looking at growth, often forgotten in the immediate concern with accumulating commodities and financial wealth, is not new. Philosophers, economists and political leaders have long emphasized human wellbeing as the purpose, the end, of development. As Aristotle said in ancient Greece, “Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.”
In seeking that something else, human development shares a common vision with human rights. The goal is human freedom. And in pursuing capabilities and realizing rights, this freedom is vital. People must be free to exercise their choices and to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Human development and human rights are mutually reinforcing, helping to secure the well-being and dignity of all people, building self-respect and the respect of others.
- 1. a. The action, process or manner of growing; both in material and immaterial senses; vegetative development; increase.
- b. of (such or such) growth: having a specified place of origin or production. Said primarily of vegetable products, hence transf. of immaterial things.
- c. spec. in Economics. See also sense 5 (growth area, industry, etc.).
- d. A crop or yield as used in a classification of (esp. the best) vineyards to indicate the quality of the wine produced there. Cf. CRU.
- 2. Stage in the process of growing; size or stature attained by growing. Obs. exc. in full growth.
- 3. The process of causing or assisting to grow; production by cultivation. Chiefly qualified by possessive pronoun. Also, the process of growing crystals: see GROW v. 14f.
- 4. a. That which grows or has grown; produce, product; said both of material and immaterial things.
- b. Path. Often spec. a morbid formation.