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Key Terms and Concepts

Brundtland Report influential report on the environment and development published in 1987
collective action a form of co-ordination based primarily on gift exchange in which people co-operate to achieve common goals
comparative advantage the theory of comparative advantage suggests that all countries have a comparative advantage in producing and trading the goods that they produce most efficiently, even if other countries can produce the good more efficiently in absolute terms. According to the theory all countries will benefit from specialising in this way
economic development economic development usually refers to improvements in income, consumption, employment, savings and investment. It also concerns how resources are distributed between different people and the processes that influence this distribution
economic growth usually refers to annual growth in real GDP or GNP, expressed as a percentage. Real income is distinct from nominal income in that it is measured in constant money values to eliminate the effect of inflation
economies of scale economies of scale allow goods and services to be supplied more cheaply when they are produced on a large scale. Often there is a minimum efficient scale beneath which it is not viable to supply certain goods and services
GDP gross domestic product - one of the most commonly used measures of national income. It measures income earned within a nation's boundaries
gift exchange a form of co-ordination based upon reciprocity
GNP Gross national product - a commonly used measure of national income. It measures the income earned by a nation's citizens
hanging in takes place when people engage in activities with the objective of clinging on to the assets they currently possess or control. As distinct from 'stepping up' and 'stepping out'
hierarchical co-ordination where command and control structures govern the use of assets and exchange
human development the concepts of human development usually involve a broad set of goals in which economic development is seen as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. In human development the goals relate to quality of life issues, such as security, health, education, social stability, equality, empowerment, dignity and so on
institutions the rules and organisations that govern social and economic relationships and associated human interactions
intergenerational equity an important principle in sustainable development, established by the Brundtland Report, and requiring that the needs of the present should be met without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
levels of social organisation used here to distinguish between households, communities, nations etc
livelihood assets the assets people use to pursue their livelihood strategies; they consist of physical, environmental, financial, human, and social capital - may also be referred to as capitals or even more generally as resources
livelihood diversification increasing the range of livelihood activities in order to enhance livelihood security or cope with a crisis
livelihoods framework a framework for examining the different components of a livelihood, the influences upon it, and the resulting outcomes
market co-ordination where markets are used to co-ordinate assets, resources, productive activities, and exchange
Millennium Development Goals the MDGs are a set of development goals agreed by the United Nations at the Millennium Summit in September 2000. They include the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people living on less than a dollar a day and the number suffering from hunger
path dependent or path dependency where future options are constrained by choices made in the past
purchasing power parity purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars are used when making cross-country comparisons of income. These are dollars that are adjusted to account for the differences in purchasing power between different countries
social capital relates to the formal and informal social relationships or resources that people draw upon in pursuit of their livelihoods
stepping out takes place when people's livelihoods shift to new, more productive, activities, and is associated with the accumulation of a new set of assets. As distinct from 'hanging in' and 'stepping up
stepping up occurs when people enhance the productivity of their existing activities and assets through investments in new assets. As distinct from 'hanging in' and 'stepping out'
sustainable development a commonly used definition is given in the Brundtland Report. Sustainable development is development which 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (WCED (1987) Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, p. 8)