Türkiye ranks 45th of 193 countries in human development, new UNDP report says

March 13, 2024

Globally, rich countries achieve record levels while poorer countries fall behind as polarization and inequality block solutions to global challenges

Ankara, 13 March 2024 - Türkiye ranks 45th among 193 countries in this year’s edition of the Human Development Index (HDI) released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Based on 2022 data, Türkiye lands in the “very high human development” category—the highest of four—for the fourth year in a row. But while the ranking offers good news for the most prosperous countries, it shows a worrying divergence in human development outcomes, with poorer countries failing to regain ground lost to the pandemic. 

Globally, the HDI hit a record high, rebounding from two years of pandemic declines. The average conceals widening inequality, however, as half of the world’s poorest countries failed to regain their pre-pandemic level.  

“Like most of the world’s wealthier countries, Türkiye has bounced back vigorously from pandemic setbacks,” said UNDP Türkiye Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “But this encouraging progress is overshadowed by resurgent inequality that threatens millions of people around the world with the risk of being left behind.” 

UNDP’s HDI was created 34 years ago to provide a fuller measure of human wellbeing than that afforded by financially focused indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP). It combines three key measures: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. Türkiye has shown remarkable improvement over three decades: the country’s HDI value rose from 0.598 in 1990 to 0.855 in 2022, a 43 percent increase. 

Türkiye has seen advances across all three dimensions of the HDI: life expectancy at birth increased by 10.8 years between 1990 and 2022; mean years of schooling increased by 4.4 years; and expected years of schooling increased by 10.8 years. And the country’s gross national income per capita surged by 154.3 percent in the same period. 

But Türkiye’s ranking slips when the HDI is adjusted for inequality. Overall men enjoy a higher level of human development than women, so when adjusted for gender equality, Türkiye’s ranking falls to 63rd of 166 countries.

The new ranking is based on national statistics and data reported in 2022, so it does not reflect the impact of the February 2023 earthquakes. Despite the huge loss of life and the vast scale of the damage caused by the disaster – a government assessment prepared with UNDP’s support estimated total damages and losses at US$103.6 billion, or 9 percent of forecast GDP for 2023 – the earthquakes are not expected to affect the country’s HDI ranking. 

The HDI rankings are a core part of the Human Development Report (HDR) published each year by UNDP. The 2023/24 edition, entitled Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining Cooperation in a Polarized World, warns that uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind, exacerbating inequality and stoking polarization on a global scale. The report finds that international collective action is hindered by an emerging “democracy paradox”: while nine in ten people worldwide endorse democracy, over half of global survey respondents express support for leaders that may undermine it by bypassing fundamental rules of the democratic process. Half of people surveyed worldwide report having no or limited control over their lives, and over two-thirds believe they have little influence on their government’s decisions. Such feelings of powerlessness combined with growing political polarization are causing some countries to turn inward precisely when renewed cooperation is vital, the report concludes. 

Pronouncing “deglobalization” an irresponsible illusion, the report recommends collective action to create “a new generation of global public goods” to provide solutions to cross-border challenges such as climate change. 

“In a world marked by increasing polarization and division, neglecting to invest in each other poses a serious threat to our wellbeing and security,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “Protectionist approaches cannot address the complex, interconnected challenges we face, including pandemic prevention, climate change, and digital regulation. Our problems are intertwined, requiring equally interconnected solutions.”

To learn more about the 2023/24 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on navigating the new uncertainty complex, visit: https://www.undp.org/turkiye/publications/human-development-report-2023

Contact information: Faik Uyanık, UNDP Türkiye, faik.uyanik@undp.org