What is Growth?
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What Does Increase Mean
We explain what growth is and its specific meaning in human development, economics, demography and mathematics.
What is growth?
If we look up the term growth in a dictionary, we will see that it is basically synonymous with increase, increase, rise or accumulation . It is used in many and very different specific areas, such as biology , economics , mathematics or demography , to name just the most common cases.
We all know, in one way or another, the experience of growth, which is inherent above all in living beings : as time passes we increase in size, capacities and irreversibly change.
It occurs with the plants that emerge from the seed, the animal puppies that soon reach the size of their parents, and even the cells grow, as they have nutrients, until they reach the ideal size to reproduce. Growth is a stage of life , contrary to aging.
Human growth and development
Human beings begin to grow even before we are born, in the womb of our mothers, as the cells of our body reach the level of development and organization necessary to properly be called a human being. This occurs in the final months of gestation, and from birth, the moment when our independent existence begins, it can be classified into four different stages:
- Lactation , which goes from birth to the first years of age, in which the infant receives breastfeeding from the mother's breast. This stage initially presents a momentary weight loss in the newborn (between 5% and 10% of its weight), but after a couple of weeks the human body normally begins a process of rapid and sustained growth, increasing almost to double their weight between the first 4 and 6 months of life.
- The preschool years , in which the child will gradually gain autonomy in their actions, learning to walk, communicate and socialize, as they grow at a constant rate and their dietary and nutritional requirements increase, as their brain and metabolism are working at full throttle.
- The middle stage of childhood , which is between 6 and 10 years old, is a stage of flattening of the child's growth, in which they are usually immersed in school interaction and in the initial definitions of their personality. This is the stage of preparation for the radical changes of adolescence.
- The adolescence , step deeper and radical changes in the life of human beings, does intermediate step between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence normally extends between the ages of 12 and 18, during which the body experiences changes in its physical appearance, its internal functioning, and its sexual readiness or reproductive maturation. The differences between men and women become present from this moment, accentuating with the passage of time, and the gigantic hormonal discharge of the developing body supposes a more complex, risky and, occasionally, painful socialization. Finally, adolescence ends with entry into adulthood, at which point an individual is considered fully grown.
In the field of economics, we speak of growth to refer to the increase in the value of the final goods and services produced by a country or a region , or the increase in their income, during a certain period of time.
Generally, this increase is expressed in certain economic indicators, such as production, energy consumption, savings, investment or the increase in per capita consumption, among other factors that reflect greater commercial activity, and is usually measured through a figure, known as Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ).
Thus, an economy that experiences growth is one that increases the volume of its commercial and financial operations, while one that is going through the opposite is considered in "decline" or at least in "stagnation". A growing economy is expected to bring about an improvement in the living standards of the population .
Economic growth can be caused by various economic reasons, such as the discovery of new exploitable resources, technological change, capital accumulation or socio-political stability, and depending on the way in which these factors are articulated, we may be talking about long-term or short-term growth.
Regarding the field of demography, that is, the study of populations, population growth is the extent to which a society increases its number of inhabitants . That is, a growing population is one that increases in number over a period of time, which can occur due to certain and different processes:
- The increase in the birth rate , that is, the number of births is greater than the number of deaths in a measured period of time. This occurs when material conditions are conducive to the formation of families , especially those with numerous offspring.
- The immigration sustained , ie the arrival of new settlers from nations , cities or neighboring regions, attracted by better conditions of life or work, or just fleeing from traumatic events in their respective backgrounds .
- Increased longevity , which means that people live longer, being able to have more offspring or simply spend more time with them. A long-lived population requires more resources and tends towards stability, while populations that experience death at an early age tend to find themselves in the midst of conditions of poverty , war or similar risks that shorten their lives.
Finally, in mathematics and calculus it is common to speak of exponential growth or continuous growth, when we are in the presence of a magnitude that, over time, experiences an increase proportional to its value , that is, it grows each time. faster as time passes.
In the latter it is distinguished from linear growth or constant growth , which takes place when the magnitude increases over time at a regular and invariable rate, that is, adding a constant amount.
As an example, let's imagine a population of bacteria in a culture medium. Normally, microorganisms live 24 hours, time that allows them to grow and reproduce once, so that where there are 100 bacteria, after 24 hours, another 100 are born (+ 100%), but at the same time 50 die (- fifty%).
This means that the bacteria experience exponential growth: the first day there will be 150, the second 225, the third 338, the fourth 507, etc., since the amount of new bacteria added increases despite being the same unit of time (24h).