Difference Between Growth and Development

Over the years, the terms growth and development have often been used interchangeably.

They tend to be inseparable, but in reality, they are entirely different concepts. They are often used to refer to changes in the life of an individual or entity from birth to maturity.

Growth is often described as an increase in size or a net increase in object size or mass. Growth is also an irreversible increase in the size of an organ or individual cell, which also means that growth involves the increase in age, height, size, weight, body structure, etc.

Biologically, growth is an increase in the size of an organ, while in psychological terms, growth is seen as a quantitative physical change that is a part of life. 

While growth specifically involves an increase in size, development is a process whereby the physical, environmental, social, and several demographic components are generated through growth. 

Difference between Growth and Development

1. Growth is mostly quantitative, while development is both qualitative and quantitative.

For instance, visible growth in a child is seen as growth, while an improvement in a child’s cognitive ability, increase in IQ, et cetera are seen as development.

2. Growth is a part of the developmental process of a person, while development covers a whole lot more.

Simply put, development is complex. This is one major difference between growth and development.

3. Growth ends at maturation while development is continuous and only ends when an individual dies.

An individual continues to learn every day, absorb knowledge, and master new skills until old age.

4. Growth is external and cellular, while development is internal and organizational.

Growth is visible outside as the body witnesses change based on cellular growth.

At the same time, development is experienced in a corporate setting such as a school environment or even the home when the individual experiences skillset changes. Skillsets such as reading or arithmetic.

This is also another important difference between growth and development.

5. Growth involves changes in physical appearances, while development is observed through changes in the individual’s character.

Growth is easily noticed as it requires material changes in appearance such as increased body size etc.

At the same time, development, on the other hand, is observed as the individual outgrows certain habits, which are most likely attributed to character changes.

6. Growth, simply put, involves a single aspect of an individual’s life which is the change in body size from conception to adulthood.

Development, on the other hand, deals with every part of the individual’s life from a change in character to advanced critical thinking to improved reasoning skills, et cetera as he/she/they grow older.

7. Growth is structural, while development is functional.

This simply means that when it comes to growth, we notice some changes in the structure of the individual as a result of growth, while in development, we don’t see any visible changes in an individual as a result of development. This is also a vital difference/distinction between growth and development.

8. In development, cultural and environmental factors play a huge role while it plays zero roles in growth. Growth is purely influenced by other factors such as hereditary and nutrition.

9. Growth is dependent on development. Little to no growth occurs without action, while development is entirely independent of change. Development occurs without growth.


Growth is practically the incremental physical transition from one point to another, while the gradual, incremental transformation of behavioral set changes are development.

An individual is uniquely equipped with the amazing ability to gain valuable experience and skills to cope with different life challenges. While it is understandable for people to interchangeably both words (growth and development), it cannot be more different.

This article highlighted several differences between growth and development to make you understand these differences. Growth is an integral part of development.

Growth is a measurable parameter, and it involves quantitative improvement while development is both quantitative and qualitative. Finally, the difference between growth and development can not be over-emphasized hence the need for this article.

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