Latest Human Development Index shows overall slowdown in growth

24 Jul 2014

In 16 countries human development levels for women are equal or higher than those for men according to the new Gender Development Index

Tokyo, 24 July 2014 — Levels in human development continue to rise – yet the pace has slowed for all regions and progress has been highly uneven, according to the latest Human Development Index (HDI) included in the 2014 Human Development Report “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience”, published today by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
 
The lower human development groups appear to be improving at a higher rate – grounds for optimism that the gap between higher and lower human development groups is narrowing.
 
Zimbabwe, for example, experienced the biggest improvement in HDI due to a significant increase in life expectancy – 1.8 years from 2012 to 2013, almost quadruple the average global increase.
 
Meanwhile, the rankings remain unchanged at both ends of the HDI. Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and United States remain in the lead for another year, while Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger continue to rank bottom of the list.
 
Despite overall gains in human development, progress in all regions decelerated over 2008–2013 compared to 2000–2008. In the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific region, and Latin America and the Caribbean, average annual growth rate in HDI dropped by about half when comparing these periods.
 
The steepest declines in HDI values this year occurred in Central African Republic, Libya and Syria, where ongoing conflict contributed to a drop in incomes.
 
This year’s Report presents HDI values for 187 countries, and is the first index to use the latest International Comparison Program’s conversion rates of national currencies to purchasing power parity, released by the World Bank in May 2014.
 
Income inequality continues to grow and education remains persistently unequal

 
The 2014 Report reveals that overall inequality has declined slightly in most regions, as measured by the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). This has been driven mainly by improvements in health in recent years.
 
However, inequality in income has risen in several regions, including among very high human development countries. Despite registering the biggest drop in overall inequality this year, the Latin America and Caribbean region maintains the global high-water mark in income inequality.
 
And high disparities in education persist. The Report shows that older generations continue to struggle with illiteracy, while younger ones are having difficulty making the leap from primary to secondary schooling. The highest levels of education inequality are found in South Asia, the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
The IHDI, calculated for 145 countries, shows that the lowest levels of inequality are to be found in Norway, Finland, and Czech Republic.
 
When ranked by the IHDI, some countries rank lower than when ranked by the HDI.
 
In United States, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is higher than in Canada. But when the GNI is adjusted for inequality, the reverse becomes true. Similarly, Botswana, Brazil and Chile have large adjustments to GNI per capita due to high inequality.
 
In 16 countries female HDI values are equal or higher than those for males
 
The new Gender Development Index (GDI), which for the first time measures the gender gap in human development achievements for 148 countries, reveals that in 16 of them (Argentina, Barbados, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay), female HDI values are equal or higher than those for males. For some of these countries, this may be attributed to higher female educational achievement; for others, to a significantly longer female life expectancy - over five years longer than that of males.
 
Afghanistan, where the human development index for females is only 60 percent of that for males, is the most unequal country.
 
Worldwide, female HDI values are eight percent lower than those for males, with large variations between countries. However, the GDI shows that the disparity between genders in the estimated gross national income per capita is very high: per capita income for men at the global level is more than double that for women.
 
Updates on other human development indices

 
The Gender Inequality Index (GII) shows an overall decline. However, despite improvements in health, and incremental progress on education and parliamentary representation, women’s empowerment is still lagging. Slovenia ranks most favourably on this index, while Yemen shows the highest gender inequality.
 
UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) shows deprivations are declining overall, but large numbers of people – some 1.5 billion in the 91 developing countries surveyed – are still multidimensionally poor, and close to 800 million are at risk of falling into poverty if setbacks occur, whether financial, environmental or otherwise.
 
South Asia has the largest multidimensionally poor population, with more than 800 million poor and over 270 million near-poor – that is, more than 71 percent of its population. This makes the region home to 56 percent of the world’s poor and more than 35 percent of the world’s near-poor.
 
UNDP is committed to full transparency. The computer programmes needed for the MPI estimation for each country are now publicly available on its web site.
 
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ABOUT THE HDI: The Human Development Index (HDI) was introduced in the first Human Development Report in 1990 as a composite measurement of development that challenged purely economic assessments of national progress. The HDI in the 2014 Report covers 187 countries and territories. (As was the case last year, the HDI could not be calculated for People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, San Marino, Somalia, South Sudan, or Tuvalu.) The HDI uses the latest World Bank conversion rates of national currencies to purchasing power parity (PPPs), published in May 2014. These new PPP rates are based on the 2011 International Comparison Program Survey, which is conducted every six years. HDI values and rankings as presented in Table 1 of the Report’s Statistical Annex are calculated using the latest internationally comparable data for health, education and income.
 
Previous HDI values and rankings are retroactively recalculated using the same updated data sets and current methodologies, as presented in Table 2 of the Statistical Annex. The HDI rankings and values in the 2014 Human Development Report cannot therefore be compared directly to HDI rankings and values published in previous Human Development Reports.
 
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ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2014 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org
 
Full press package available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/2014-report/press
 

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