What is Human Development Index

Human Development Index (HDI) – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) gave serious consideration to the fact that at the center of all developmental activities should be people and decided to bring out reports on a yearly basis since 1990 encompassing human dimensions of development. The Report, therefore, proposed a new measure of development known as the Human Development Index. This index comprises three indicators: 

  1. life expectancy
  2. adult literacy and income expressed in dollars. 
The component indicators and the computing process of HDI were modified in the subsequent Human Development Report. There are three basic dimensions of human development in HDI to measure the overall achievements of the country. These are longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Thus Human Development Report may be considered as a modest effort to propagate that there is no automatic link between economic growth and human development. This significant difference can be observed by a glimpse of the ranking of the countries based on per capita income and human development index. The human development index apart from the per capita income included two other variables i.e life expectancy and literacy rate. The variable like human rights and political freedom were already left out because they could not be quantified. Due to these reasons, many countries with moderate per capita income showed a high-level literacy and higher life expectancy, while others with relatively higher per capita income performed poorly with respect to the other two variables.

The Human Development Reports are contributing significantly by discussing insufficient details of the role of markets, globalization process, and international institutions promoting human development. The HDR 1999 has incorporated several new themes related to health, culture, environment and political democracy and stability

What is Human Development Index

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development. These basic dimensions are long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. The mentioned dimensions are measured by the following indicators.

  1. Long and healthy life is measured by life expectancy at birth
  2.  Knowledge is measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weight) 
  3. A decent standard of living is measured by GDP per capita in purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US Dollars. 
Why Human Development Index?

Paul Streeten, a development economist identified six reasons in favor of human development. The reasons are as follows:

  1. The ultimate purpose of the entire exercise of development is to improve human conditions and to enlarge people’s choices. 
  2. Human development is a means to higher productivity. A well-nourished, healthy, educated, skilled alert labor force is the most productive asset. Therefore investments in these sectors are justified on grounds of productivity. 
  3.  It helps in reducing the rate of growth of the population. 4. Human development is friendly to the physical environment also. Deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion decline when poverty declines. 5. Improved living conditions and reduced poverty contribute to a healthy civil society and greater social stability.
  4.  Human development also helps in reducing civil disturbance in the society and in increasing political stability 


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