Development - Are things getting better?

This video, presented by Dr Duncan Green, provides a useful foundation for understanding development. It is important to reflect on the progress that has been made over the past century, and also to understand, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, what development issues are still present. The video, which is one of a series on development, also discusses the importance of not only measuring development economically, but through a variety of social measures.

About the presenter

Dr. Duncan Green is a Senior Strategic Advisor for Oxfam GB, and is also currently a visiting fellow of the University of Sussex. He has written several books on the topic of development, including From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States can Change the World. His blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter at @fp2p.

Supporting questions

  1. What are some examples of where science has helped reduce the global population’s mortality rate?
  2. How has politics and democracy changed in many countries over the past 100 years?
  3. How is economic development related to health, peace and democracy?


Over the past century:

  • scientific innovation has made the world a healthier place
  • the world has become a more peaceful place
  • the world has become a more democratic plac.

Accompanying resources

Related videos

Journal articles and books

The Age of Development: Mission accomplished or RIP?

This article summarises the evidence and arguments for a ‘cup half full’ interpretation of development, which argues that poverty can be abolished within a matter of years, while global health and education indicators are on a seemingly inexorable upward curve, along with human rights and political inclusion. In contrast, new thinking about development, exploring topics such as climate change, inequality, well-being, vulnerability to shocks and the importance of systems thinking, suggests that any celebration is premature and much remains to be done. Readers are invited to consider how geographical research and education might contribute to these debates.

Green, D. 2015. The Age of Development: Mission accomplished or RIP? - Geography, 100(2): p 102-109

Demographic Development – John Jowett

This paper expands on the content of this video, and explains the process of the Demographic Transition Model (DTM), and how the changes discussed in this video have changed the global population.

Jowett, J. 1989. Demographic Development. Geography 74(4):346-348

For Richer for Poorer? A study of uneven development – Paula Cooper

This GCSE teachers’ toolkit covers many topics on development, including lessons on ‘What is effective aid?’, and ‘Is the development gap widening or narrowing?’

Shop link

The Great Escape – Angus Deaton

This book discusses the amazing journey of development over the past 250 years, but also reveals how this has coincided with an increase of global inequality.

Global Learning Programme

Supports teachers to help pupils learn about the challenges our world faces and think critically about how to deal with issues such as poverty, inequality and sustainability. It helps pupils to make sense of the world in which they live and to understand their role within a global society.


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