IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Human Development: Means and Ends

Listed author(s):
  • Paul P. Streeten

    (Department of Economics, Boston University, USA.)

Registered author(s):

    Sometimes the change in the fashions of thinking about development appears like a comedy of errors, a lurching from one fad to another. Economic growth, employment creation, jobs and justice, redistribution with growth, basic needs, bottom-up development, participatory development, sustainable development, market-friendly development, liberation, liberalisation, human development; thus goes the carousel of the slogans. But this would not be a correct record. There has been an evolution in our thinking about development. Both internal logic and new evidence have led to the revision of our views. Previous and partly discarded approaches have taught us much that is still valuable, and our current approach will surely be subject to criticisms. A brief survey of the evolution of our thinking may be helpful. The discussion started in the 1950s, influenced by Arthur Lewis (1955) and others, who emphasised economic growth as the key to poverty eradication. Even at this early stage, sensible economists and development planners were quite clear (in spite of what is now often said in caricature of past thought) that economic growth is not an end in itself, but a performance test of development. Arthur Lewis defined the purpose of development as widening our range of choice, exactly as the Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Programme do today. Three justifications were given for the emphasis on growth as the principal performance test. One justification assumed that through market forces–such as the rising demand for labour, rising productivity, rising wages, lower prices of the goods bought by the people–economic growth would spread its benefits widely and speedily, and that these benefits are best achieved through growth. Even in the early days some sceptics said that growth is not necessarily so benign. They maintained that in certain conditions (such as increasing returns, restrictions to entry, monopoly power, unequal distribution of income and assets), growth gives to those who already have; it tends to concentrate income and wealth in the hands of the few.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in its journal The Pakistan Development Review.

    Volume (Year): 34 (1995)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 333-372

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:34:y:1995:i:4:p:333-372
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    P.O.Box 1091, Islamabad-44000

    Phone: (92)(51)9248051
    Fax: (92)(51)9248065
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-142, March.
    2. Behrman, Jere R., 1993. "The economic rationale for investing in nutrition in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 21(11), pages 1749-1771, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:34:y:1995:i:4:p:333-372. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Khurram Iqbal)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.