The Journal of Politics


An Index of Socio-Economic Development 1869–1975

Arthur S. Banks

During the last three decades, social scientists have produced a sizeable library of books and articles dealing with “development.” Some have confined themselves essentially to definitional activity, while others have assembled numeric measures designed to encapsulate, in “hard data” form, phenomena such as “modernization,” “industrialization,” “quality of life,” etc. Ironically, while methodological capabilities are enhanced by such quantification, theoretical clarity tends to be blurred — in part because “development” is not intrinsically unidimensional and in part because the substitution of a number for a concept is, in such a context, a manifestly reductionist undertaking.

Arthur S. Banks is professor of political science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.