Difference between Growth and Development

Key difference: Growth is usually used in reference to size or physical development. Development overall is a more general and envelops term than growth. Development includes growth, but also includes other aspects of improvement or development.

Growth and development are often used together in a sentence, whether it is talking about a person, a business or even the economy. However, what do growth and development actually mean and how are they similar or different than each other.

Growth is usually used in reference to size, physical, or quantitative development. For example, the GDP and GNP growth is quantitative- counted with numbers (See the difference between GDP and GNP). Development overall is a more general and envelops term than growth. Development includes growth, but also includes other aspects of improvement or development.

For example, a human child is growing when his body grows. However, this necessarily does not mean that he is maturing mentally. His stages of mental development would be from child to adolescent to teenager to young adult to adult.

In addition to size, growth may also be referring to growth in mass or numbers. Whereas, development can be used to refer to any and all improvement, acquisition of skills, as well as an increase in levels of quality and innovation.

The main difference between them is that growth is usually quantitative, whereas development is usually qualitative. It a number can be put on it, then it is growth, other it is termed as development. For example, we would say our business grew 20% since last year, depending upon the company’s focus and mission which has really developed it along with the growth, gradually over the years. Talking about the difference between economic growth and economic development we can say that a country achieves growth his economy increases but we say a country has achieved economic development when there are improvements in assets and functionality that contribute to the overall growth of the economy. 

Furthermore, growth can be perceived and can be measured accurately, whereas development cannot necessarily be perceived on average and cannot be measured accurately. Development is a subjective interpretation of one’s change. Taking the example of the difference between economic growth and cultural growth, economic growth is a quantitative growth whereas cultural growth is purely a qualitative growth that cannot be measured but can be observed.

Difference between growth and development



Growth can be getting bigger or increasing in size

Development refers to improvement in a positive direction

Growth is structural

Improvement is qualitative

Growth is often a physical change

Whereas development can be physical, social or psychological

It is a quantitative improvement

It is a qualitative improvement

In the case of biological growth, it means an increase in the physical size of the organisms

Here it can mean functional or behavioral improvement of the organisms

In terms of economy, growth is the increase in the number of measurable assets

Here it is the qualitative and functional improvements of the financial systems for better results

Growth stops when the organization reaches the stage of maturity.

Development is a continual process and does not cease with maturity

Growth is vertical

Development can be vertical as well as horizontal

In terms of business growth makes an organization big

Development makes an organization widespread 

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