HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX

“The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people’s choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.”

Mahbub ul Haq (1934-1998)
Founder of the Human Development Report

“Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it.”

Prof. Amartya Sen
Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Nobel Laureate in Economics, 1998

 

The combined statistic of

  1. life expectancy,
  2. education, and
  3. income indices

to rank countries into four tiers of human development is known as the Human Development Index (HDI).  It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, a developing or an underdeveloped country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. It was created by Pakistani economist Mahbub-ul-Haq followed by economist Amartya Sen in 1990, and published by the United Nations Development Programme.

The first Human Development Report in 1990 opened with the simply stated premise that has guided all subsequent Reports: “People are the real wealth of a nation.” By backing up this assertion with an abundance of empirical data and a new way of thinking about and measuring development, the Human Development Report has had a profound impact on policies around the world. The human development approach is as relevant as ever to making sense of our changing world and finding ways to improve people’s well-being. Human development is an evolving idea, not a fixed, static set of precepts. And as the world changes, analytical tools and concepts will also continue to evolve. Yet the core insight at the center of the human development approach remains constant and as valid today as it was two decades ago: Development is ultimately best measured by its impact on individual lives. The past decades have seen substantial progress in many aspects of human development. Most people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated and have more access to goods and services. Even in countries facing adverse economic conditions, people’s health and education have greatly improved. And there has been progress not only in improving health and education and raising income, but also in expanding people’s power to select leaders, influence public decisions and share knowledge. Yet much more remains to be done in expanding choices and improving well-being for all people in all countries and communities, and for generations yet to come. The first Human Development Report introduced a new way of measuring development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income into a composite human development index, the HDI. The breakthrough for the HDI was the creation of a single statistic which was to serve as a frame of reference for both social and economic development. The HDI sets a minimum and a maximum for each dimension, called goalposts, and then shows where each country stands in relation to these goalposts, expressed as a value between 0 and 1.

 

 

10 highest HDIs

 

                  Rank

Country

HDI

New 2011 Estimates for 2011

Change compared to new 2011 data for 2010

New 2011 Estimates for 2011

Change compared to new 2011 data for 2010

1

 Norway

0.943

 0.002

2

 Australia

0.929

3

 Netherlands

0.910

 0.001

4

 United States

0.910

 0.002

5

 New Zealand

0.908

6

 Canada

0.908

 0.001

7

 Ireland

0.908

 0.001

8

 Liechtenstein

0.905

 0.001

9

 Germany

0.905

 0.002

10

 Sweden

0.904

 0.003

 

 

10 lowest HDIs

Rank

Country

HDI

New 2011 Estimates for 2011

Change compared to new 2011 data for 2010

New 2011 Estimates for 2011

Change compared to new 2011 data for 2010

178

 Guinea

0.344

 0.002

179

 Central African Republic

0.343

 0.004

180

 Sierra Leone

0.336

 0.002

181

 Burkina Faso

0.331

 0.002

182

 (1)

 Liberia

0.329

 0.004

183

 (1)

 Chad

0.328

 0.002

184

 Mozambique

0.322

 0.005

185

 Burundi

0.316

 0.003

186

 Niger

0.295

 0.002

187

 Democratic Republic of the Congo

0.286

 0.013

 

India ranks a low 134 among 187 countries in terms of the human development index (HDI), which assesses long-term progress in health, education and income indicators, said a UN report released on Wednesday. Although placed in the “medium” category, India’s standing is way behind scores of economically less developed countries, including war-torn Iraq as well as Philippines. India Human Development Report, 2011, prepared by Institute of Applied Manpower Research, placed Kerala on top of the index for achieving highest literacy rate, quality health services and consumption expenditure of people. Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Goa were placed at second, third and fourth position respectively. Further, asset ownership both in urban and rural areas continued to be highly unequal and concentrated among top five per cent of households.

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