Stiglitz's Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (CMEPSP) argued that well-being is multidimensional and identified eight distinct dimensions. Conventional linear techniques confirm that a large number of dimensions are needed to describe development. In contrast, a new non-linear technique that we introduce from chaos theory shows that a smaller number of dimensions are needed to span the development space. From the analysis, variables representing the Health, Education, Inequality and Individual Rights areas of life quality would provide a broad picture of development, whereas income per capita adds little extra information. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.