There are many other ways to judge the development of a country. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and a selection of indicators could be chosen to show changes over time or to compare changes in different countries.
One indictor which signifies not just standards of living, but potential for development is the measure of mobile phones per thousand of the population. Mobile technology allows a catch of fish to be bought into a port where prices are highest, or can be used to develop a cashless trading system in a country where the currency and finance systems are insecure. Mobiles dont require a constant supply of electricity and are therefore a strong indication that a country can develop despite problems with its infrastructure.
Another very helpful indicator is the proportion of workers involved in agriculture. In Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, around two-thirds of the workforce is employed in agriculture. In Latin America the proportion is around 25%, but in developed countries the figure is around 2%. THe greater the proportion, the less likely it is that the country has high actual or potential economic growth. The marginal product of labour in agriculture is likely to be very low, and workers are likely to have little income and little access to other forms of work where incomes could rise. However, living in an agricultural environment does provide some protection from international shocks such as global recession, in that the produce can be life sustaining if not income generating.
Problems in using other measures of development
Many measures have data collection problems. Some data, such as disease indicators, aree difficult ro gain with accuracy because cause of death might not be known or might be concealed for cultural or political reasons.
Another problem is that indicators can overlap, so although a wider use of indicators may give a broader picture, it might also give a very uneven picture. For examples, access to safe water and disease indictors are likely to be closely related, increasing the weight of the health measure relative to incomes and education.