Though economic development and social development are closely linked, there might be many instances in which one may not follow the other. While economic development is the outcome of industrialization, liberal economic policies, abundant natural resources, and many other things, social development results from good health of the citizens of a country, low suicide rates, high level of general happiness, fair distribution of wealth, equal opportunities for everyone , irrespective of caste, class and gender, tolerance for one another, absence of gender discrimination, spiritual advancement, and many other indicators of similar kind. A cursory glance at these indicators will convince us that not all social development is made possible by economic development.
There are many examples of countries that are economically well developed, but in these very countries, women are treated with contempt and disrespect; there are many economically developed countries where ethnic conflict is rife, and where one section of society gets lion’s share of the economic pie, while the other sections are barely able to make ends meet. Of what use is that economic development which drives its citizens mad, often resulting in low levels of happiness, and sometimes suicide.
Nevertheless, economic development is often the harbinger of many social changes, such as reduction in general levels of poverty, higher life expectancy, higher standards of living, lower levels of unemployment, lower levels or crime rate and corruption, and many more. It is for this reason that a country that is economically developed is far more likely to be socially developed, than a country that is economically backward. But as discussed above, not all social development is the result of economic development.
Moreover, I believe that while economic development is the result of government’s economic policies, which does have a huge impact on the growth and development of a nation, social development often stems from collective effort of the people of a particular society. For example, what might drive a wealthy young man to commit suicide? A society that gives little or no importance to spiritual and moral values, will not be able to provide emotional succor to its members; in such a society there is little bonding among the members, and such a society is very likely to decline, just as many economically advanced civilizations in the past did.
The collapse of the economically developed and all-powerful Roman Empire was precisely due to spiritual, moral and social decline of its citizens.
Thus to conclude I would say that whereas economic development is the responsibility of the state, social development is the onus of the citizens of that state; it is far easier to eradicate poverty and bring about economic development, but to engineer social change is a task that is not only difficult but also slow and imperceptible. Thus I believe that economic development may not always lead to social development