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Guide to Development Speak


Keynesian model

A model developed by John Maynard Keynes in the early 1930s to explain the cause of economic depression, and hence the unemployment of that period. The model states that unemployment is caused when people are unable to afford all the goods and services they need. This means that company profits fall, meaning they can afford to pay fewer workers. As a result the economy goes into recession. Keynes suggested governments spend money – for example in the public sector - to activate underused resources and therefore create jobs.

Knowledge-based society

A concept used more in a political, policy-making context than in an academic one and refers to a given society/economy with the ability to generate and capture new knowledge and to access, absorb, share and efficiently use information, knowledge, data, and communication.

Landless labourers

Those in the developing world, mainly small-scale or subsistence farmers, who are effectively without land. In some countries this can be as much as 70% of the rural population.

Least developed countries (LDCs)

A country classification designated by the UN based on criteria of low per capita GDP, weak human resources such as life expectancy and calorie intake, and a low level of economic diversification (commodity exporting, low manufacturing base). As of 2002 there are 49 LDCs.

Life expectancy at birth

Indicates the number of years newborn children will be expected to live if subject to the mortality risks prevailing for the cross section of the population at the time of their birth.


The ability to read and write.

Literacy rate

The percentage of a given population able to read and write. Literacy rates are often used as one of the many social indicators of the state of development within a country.

Low-income country

A country having a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita equivalent to $755 or less in 1999 and where many people cannot meet their basic needs. There are currently about 64 low-income countries with a combined population of more than 2.4 billion.
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