Difference Between Growth and Development (With Table)

Growth and development, the meaning of both of these words are usually confused with each other but having a clear understanding of their accurate meanings can give us an insight regarding their difference. Growth and development are interdependent and interrelated with each other, but growth is usually quantitative whereas development can be both qualitative and quantitative.

Growth vs Development

The main difference between growth and Development is the fact that growth mainly refers to the physical change or growth in a person but development is usually an overall growth on mental, social, and intellectual levels. For example, when a child ages he/she grows in height, that would be considered a growth, and the understanding of their surroundings, of good and bad, truth and lie would be considered development.

Growth is limited to a certain point in human beings. Scientifically, it can be considered that cellular changes occurring in the body result in the growth which is visible from an appearance like increasing of heights and weights, change in voice, hair growth on the body,  etc. Growth also occurs in plants in a somewhat indefinite manner, but the growth of a plant from a seed to bearing fruit can be regarded as its growth.

On the other hand, development occurs gradually and is not necessarily visible through one’s appearance. The environment, people, and society surrounding a person play a great role in their development. And a person goes through different kinds of development their entire life, be it increasing of IQ while growing up, learning about how the social function or self-awareness, it goes on forever.

Comparison Table Between Growth and Development

Parameters of Comparison Growth Development
Definition The physical changes in a person with time like an increase in height, weight, etc are called growth.The mental, psychological, intellectual, and social changes in a person as they grow up are called development.
Category It is a quantitative augmentation. It is a qualitative augmentation.
Driving forceCellular changes in the body. Environment, society, peers, knowledge
Consistency Growth ends once a person is fully matured. Development occurs gradually and is consistent throughout the whole life.
Visibility Growth can be visible in external features. Development is internal and can be comprehended through evaluation.

What is Growth?

Growth is the change of the physical appearance of an individual. It is usually associated with an increase in height, weight, size, length, and other indicators of growth. Growth occurs progressively and consists of different stages, for example, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Thus, growth is external and can be visible as an individual grows in age. 

For example, if an individual’s shoes don’t fit them or their dresses are tight, they feel more hungry than usual, an increase in height, appearance of body hairs, change in voice intonation, all of these can be indicators for the growth of a person.

We can also consider the growth of plants. Plants also grow in progressive stages but in a somewhat indefinite manner and a different manner from humans. The journey of plants from seed to bearing fruits, leaves, and flowers is considered as its growth that can be perceived through naked eyes. 

So growth is a highly quantitative augmentation and it is very size oriented. The growth process is progressive and is carried out in stages, each stage unique and visible. Growth is definite in humans and is structural. It is measurable i.e 155cm height, 56 kg weight, etc. Growth is mainly the function of an organism.

What is Development?

Development is defined as the change in overall mental, psychological, intellectual, and social aspects in an individual. Development is a qualitative augmentation that focuses on the internal development of an individual, something that is not visible by looking at that person. Rather development can be seen by doing a comprehensive evaluation of a person like IQ tests. 

The development of a person is also evident from their way of handling tough situations that they would have to face throughout life. Development occurs throughout life, for instance, a person can always learn about new things, educate themselves and develop their understanding at any age. The development of a person is also influenced by the environment and society. 

So development emphasizes much more on getting mentally matured. It occurs at a gradual pace and leads to changes in various behavioral aspects. It is also associated with feeding oneself with advanced skills and being self-aware of the qualities and flaws of one’s own. A six-year-old child can only manage to do addition and other simple mathematical problems, but a 16-year-old child can understand and solve complex mathematical problems like calculus. This suggests that the rate of development of the child increases with age.

Main Differences Between Growth and Development

  1. Growth is the physical changes occurring in an individual with time while development refers to the overall mental, intellectual and social development of the individual.
  2. Growth is a quantitative augmentation generally associated with size for instance an individual has 155cm height whereas development is a qualitative augmentation associated with intelligence and emotions.
  3. Growth occurs because of the cellular changes in the body i.e increase in cell number that makes various changes in the size and length of the body. Development is usually driven by the environment, society, and peers.
  4. Growth usually lasts only till the age of twenty-five i.e when the person is a complete adult but development is gradual and consistent throughout life.
  5. Growth can be easily visible in external features of an individual in the increase in height, change in voice as one matures while the development of an individual needs to be analyzed through a comprehensive evaluation.


Discussing briefly both of these topics, it can be concluded that although both of these terms sound similar and are often treated as each other’s synonyms, there is a clear difference between their meanings and the significance of their use in different fields. Although the meanings are different from each other, both of these aspects are interrelated and one depends on the other.

Growth is usually also considered a major part of development even if the opposite is not always true. Regardless, growth and development are both important for an individual and an individual should always focus on both growing to be a healthy person and achieve emotional, intellectual, and psychological maturity for a peaceful life.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QSLvBwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=difference+between+growth+and+development&ots=iNqrvoqM5g&sig=lBSn-vf-umWQNuxAXlEx3LxcMeQ
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/article-abstract/14/suppl_2/S9/4653854
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