Difference Between Growth and Development


Main Difference

The main difference between growth and development is that an increase in size known as growth and increase in function and capability is known as development.

Growth vs. Development

The rapid change in size is growth. The rapid change in the form, function, and behavior is development. Growth refers to an increase in number. The development includes overall changes in growth and other progressive changes. Growth is structural and absolute in a measure. Development is functional and coordinates with various systems of the body through age. Growth is usually a part of development and development refers to an improvement of circumstances. Growth stops when the organism reaches the stage of maturity, but development is a life-long process. Growth involves body changes, and development involves the change from origin to maturity. Growth influenced by the process of development, but not always. Development occurs without growth. Growth does not continue throughout life. It stops when maturity has been attained. Development does not stop; it does not end with the attainment of maturity. Related to living beings growth is a physical change and it indicates the increase in weight, height, and bone size. Development is the process of developing skills, abilities, and capacities that deals with the behavioral aspect of a living being. Growth is termed as a physical change and development is said to be physical as well as social, psychological change, transformation or improvement. Growth is related to quantitative improvement; development is related to quantitative as well as qualitative improvement.


Comparison Chart

Increase in physical aspectsOverall changes in the whole organism
Changes Occur
Level of Growing
At the cellular levelAt the organizational level
Process Tenor
In a certain periodContinuous process
Short term processLong term process

What is Growth?

The term growth is used in a physical sense. It generally refers to an increase in length, size, height, and weight. Growth may or may not refer to development. A child may by becoming fat, but this growth may not bring any functional development or improvement. Growth indicates the changes in the particular aspects of the body and behavior of an organism. Indicators of growth include height, weight, bone size, and dentition. Growth is a continuous process that determines many factors. All humans follow the same pattern of growth. The factors that influence growth and development are both genetic and environmental. Genetic factors determine such characteristics such as sex, physical, status, and race. Environmental factors affect individual growth and development like family, religion, climate, culture, school, community, and nutrition. The poorly nourished child is more likely to have the infection than a well-fed child. He may also not attain his/her potential height. The changes took place by growth are the subject of measurement they may be quantified and are observable. Growth is an aspect of the developmental process of human beings in nature. Growth is an irreversible constant increase in the size of an organ or even an individual cell. The period of human growth from his birth to his adolescence is commonly divided into four stages.


Four Stages of Human Growth

  • Infancy: which is from birth to weaning.
  • Childhood: which is from the weaning to the end of brain growth
  • Juvenile: which is from the end of childhood to adolescence
  • Adolescence: which is from the start of a growth spurt at puberty until sexual maturity

What is Development?

Development refers to a progressive series of changes in an orderly, coherent pattern until the end of life. Development of a particular organism not only grows physically but acquires mental and physiological growth as well. Development mainly means to progress and improve. Development is a qualitative measure. When a thing develops, the quality of that thing also improves. Development refers to the overall progressive changes of a thing. The development includes overall changes in shape, structure or form which results in improved working and functioning. It specifies the changes in the quality or character rather than in quantitative aspects. Development is the process which is also possible without growth as we see in the cases of some children who do not gain weight, height, or size but do experience functional development or improvement in physical, emotional, social, or intellectual aspects. It is a behavior capacity, and skill of a person, e.g., the person develops their ability to walk, talk, to run, etc. Development of physical prowess, skill, and mental processes continues for many years. Even middle-age does not interrupt development. Any disturbance in the factors required for development will accordingly affect the smooth and successful outcome of the process.

Key Differences

  1. Growth is quantitative while development is qualitative.
  2. Growth is independent conversely development is dependent on growth.
  3. Growth is never-ending on the flip side development is an end-goal.
  4. Growth takes place throughout life. On the other hand, development occurs at specific stages of age.
  5. Growth is just ‘getting bigger,’ whereas development is an improvement.


Growth is an increase in size and number over time and development is an increase in the complexity of function and skill progression.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson