Steady growth in human development for Lao PDR, inequality slowing down progress

22 Mar 2013

image Mr. Minh Pham and Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong launch the 2013 Human Development Report in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Kayla Keenan

Vientiane, 21st March 2013 – The 2013 Human Development Report was launched on Thursday by Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Minh Pham at a ceremony held in the Mercure hotel in Vientiane. The local launch of the Report was attended by Government officials and Development Partners.

“The publication of global Human Development Report has begun since 1990 and has made significant contribution to the development of human worldwide. The 2013 Report, titled ‘The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World’, examines our fast-changing world and the implications for human development at global level” stated by  Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphathong. The Report projects that by 2030, more than 80 percent of the world’s middle class will reside in the South, and that the Asia-Pacific region will be home to about two-thirds of the new global middle class. By 2020, the Report projects, the combined output of the three leading South  economies—China, India, Brazil—will surpass the aggregate production of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.

The 2013 Report identifies more than 40 developing countries with human development gains that significantly outpaced global norms in recent decades. However, it warns that failures to address persistent inequalities, and a lack of opportunities for meaningful civic participation could threaten this progress unless leaders take bold corrective actions. Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress in the world’s poorest countries and communities.

“We should celebrate the fact that over the last decades almost all countries have lifted human development,” said Mr. Minh Pham, speaking at the launch event. “But progress has also been uneven, and gross inequities persist”, he added.

In Lao PDR, the significant gains made in economic growth and social sectors over the recent years have paved the way for continual improvement in human development in the country. Between 1985 and 2012, substantial progress has been made in the main HDI indicators: life expectancy increased by 19 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.5 years, expected years of schooling increased by 3.7 years and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by about 178 percent. Consequently, Lao PDR has seen steady improvement in its HDI value over time, making Lao PDR one of the HDI growth leaders in the medium human development category, where it currently sits.  

Overall, Lao PDR’s HDI of 0.543 in the 2012 Human Development Report positions the country at 138 out of 187 countries and territories in the World. However, when discounted for inequality, the HDI value for Lao PDR falls to 0.409, a loss of about 25 percent.

“Our analysis confirms a message found in every Human Development Report: economic growth does not automatically translate into human development. Significant investments in people - in education and skills, and in nutrition and health, are vital.” Mr. Pham said.

The Human Development Index is calculated by taking into account the combined indicators of life expectancy, education and income. It covers both social and economic development.

The global Human Development Reports are published annually with National Human Development Reports (NHDR) produced every four years. Since 1998, Lao PDR has published already four national reports; the next one is due 2014.  The 5th NHDR will focus on achieving the MDGs as a vital element of both the Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation and in reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities across communities in all regions of the country.

Read or Download the 2013 Human Development Report

Contact Information

Ms. Latsany Phakdisoth at UNDP
Tel: 021 267 737
Email: latsany.phakdisoth@undp.org

2013 Human Development Report
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