Human Development Index

A Hindu-Muslim Friendship That Helped Shape How the World Measured Poverty

One half of a friendship: Amartya Sen, the renowned Indian economist and a Nobel Prize winner, at a meeting in Brazil, 2012.  They were two young men studying at Cambridge University when they met in the wake of the bloody Partition of British India. One was a Kashmiri-born Muslim and the other a Hindu-born Bengali. But the two, Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan and Amartya Sen from India, soon formed an intellectual bond and deep friendship. “It was an autumn morning in early October 1953 and Mahbub — elegantly attired (indeed I would say, nattily dressed) — was walking rapidly down King’s Parade on his way to the first lecture of the term by the redoubtable economist Joan Robinson,” Sen recalled in 1998, speaking at a memorial service for Haq, who had died that year at 64. “I was also going ther...

Counting what counts in development

To most people, “development” is best measured by the quantity of change – like gains in average income, life expectancy, or years spent in school. The Human Development Index (HDI), a composite measure of national progress that my office at the United Nations Development Programme oversees, combines all three statistics to rank countries relative to one another. What many do not realize, however, is that such metrics, while useful, do not tell the entire story of development. In fact, to understand how developed a country is, we must also grasp how people’s lives are affected by progress. And to understand that, we must consider the quality of the change that is being reported. When statisticians compare countries, they require commensurate data. To compare school attendance, for example,...

Human Development Index (HDI)

  Read this article published by HDRO and learn more about the history, dimensions and indicators of the Human Development Index:

Measuring Human Development in the Future

Each year, the Human Development Index (HDI), the signature index of the Human Development Reports (HDR), captures headlines across the globe, as countries track their progress in education, health and income. Although the HDI is not a comprehensive measure of human development, it is a broader assessment of human well-being and it shows how, human development measures have become a touchstone in assessing progress over the last 25 years. The HDI, which was introduced in the first Human Development Report (1990), has been pioneering in the field and remains one of the – if not the – most influential of indices in development debates. Other human development measures and indices have been progressively introduced to the reports. And today HDRs include a family of composite indices and indic...

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