Literally speaking, development means gradual growth to get more advanced, more powerful and even bigger. In other words, development is an attempt to create equilibrium or solve problems related to social and economic aspects of human life.
Brookfield has noted that development should be defined in relation to progress towards welfare goals such as reduction of poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
Modern societies make plans to facilitate realization of the above goals. Iran’s 20-Year Vision Plan has been formulated along the same lines. According to Iran’s Vision Plan, the country should top the region in such fields as economy, science and technology by 2025. The Vision Plan also envisages effective interactions in international relations.
Since the concept of development is relative and depends on time and place, we need to determine socioeconomic situation of Iran in the region before discussing temporal trend of changes that should be made in line with the 20-Year Vision Plan as an effective step in analyzing Iran’s economic policies following notification of the Vision Plan and the country’s future economic course.
This policy paper compares Iran’s economic and social situation to 24 Southwest Asian countries using over 40 socioeconomic indices. Ranking for every one of those indexes has been first suggested for 2004 (one year before notification of the Vision Plan) and then for 2007 (three years later), so as to compare Iran’s current situation with what existed before notification of the Plan.
Southwest Asia includes 25 countries in Persian Gulf region (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen), the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus, Palestine, and Israel), Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan), Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia) and the western part of the Indian Subcontinent (Afghanistan and Pakistan).
The following indices were compared among these countries: population, gross domestic product (GDP), economic growth, per capita GDP, inflation rate, unemployment rate, labor force productivity, balance of current account, share of total imports and exports in GDP, flow and accumulation of foreign direct investment (FDI), value of national currency, business index, population under poverty line, Gini coefficient, human development index, share of research and development expenses in GDP, Internet access rate, economic liberty index, corruption perception index, proportion of investment to GDP, and outcome of commercial relations among those countries.
Since economic figures on Iraq are lacking, only social statistics on the country have been provided. The same is true about Palestine, which has not been recognized as an independent state by UN and no social statistics on it are available.
The policy paper continues with offering all indexes related to 2004 and 2007 and providing regional rankings for those years. Meanwhile, economic developments in major rival countries are compared with Iran. The third and concluding part of the paper provides an assessment of socioeconomic changes in Iran after notification of the 20-Year Vision Plan.