Human Development Report

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...

Disability and Vulnerability

The Human Development Report Office was fortunate to have #StephenHawking contribute to the #HumanDevelopment Report in 2014 with the message “disability need not be an obstacle to success.” Read his special contribution below: As a theoretical physicist I understand very well the concept of vulnerability: there is little in the cosmos that is not susceptible to harm. Even the very universe itself may someday come to an end. Humanity has always been vulnerable to different challenges. And there can be no doubt that great scientific discoveries—from penicillin to the periodic table, from evolution to electricity—have helped us to understand our world, reduce our vulnerability, and build more resilient societies. But, despite great and varied progress, vulnerable people and vulnerable groups...

Gender Inequality Index (GII)

  Read the full explanation of the Gender Inequality Index (GII) on the HDRO website: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/gender-inequality-index-gii

Multidimensional Poverty Index

  Read the full explanation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) on the HDRO website: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/multidimensional-poverty-index-mpi

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 that “cares”

In a recent dialogue, members of civil society and governments explored the practical and political steps to leave no one behind through the experiences of those who are excluded. Sarah, a 16-year-old from Chicago, USA, asked the decision makers around the table how it was possible that she and her siblings were abandoned and suffered physical violence for six years without anybody raising the alarm to help them. They were neglected by the (under resourced) social services, the government, the neighbors, the hospital employees and even their own family. She was “left behind”. To her, what is even harder than the five years of lost schooling or the trauma caused by the abuse, is trying to understand why nobody cared. The 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) recommends putting in place “natio...

Human security and natural disasters

The last few months have seen many natural disasters across the world, raising global attention on disaster risk reduction. In August, unusually heavy rainfalls flooded South Asia, killing over 1,200 people and displacing at least 2.5 million in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. On 7 September, the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century killed 98 people, affecting 1.5 million in the state of Chiapas. Twelve days later, another major earthquake rattled Mexico City, killing over 300 people and injuring over 4,600. Three devastating hurricanes battered the Caribbean and the United States in August and September 2017, killing hundreds of people, displacing over 2 million and costing hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses. Two of these were Category 5 hurricanes, an exceptional ...

Multidimensional poverty and its assessment found their place in the 2030 Agenda

Adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development at the World Summit on 25-27 September 2015, the world leaders have recognized that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. From a human development perspective, we welcome the 2030 Agenda, and all national and international discussions, debates and dialogues about the multidimensional nature of poverty. Especially we welcome initiatives to include measures of multidimensional poverty into the list of indicators that will help monitor and track achievements in eradication of all forms of poverty. The Human Development Report Office (HDRO) has always been at the forefront in complementing the traditional m...

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...

Are people the drivers of change and development?

“We the peoples…” are the opening words of the UN Charter and UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has reiterated calls for people-centered development. But what do we actually mean by putting people at the center of development? What new approaches will it take to achieve ambitious global goals for 2030? Let me share three main ideas and one concrete example. With the significantly raised ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is consensus that we must go well beyond business as usual. Relatedly, UNDP’s Human Development Report 2016 ‘Human Development for Everyone’ underscores the importance of empowering people as change agents to realize their full potential. Thus, achieving breakthrough development progress requires new mindsets, thinking, and action...

Living Free and Equal

In the quarter-century since the publication in 1990 of the first Human Development Report, the world has made astounding strides in reducing poverty and improving the health, education, and living conditions of hundreds of millions of people. And yet, as impressive as these gains may be, they have not been distributed equally. Both between countries and within them, deep disparities in human development remain. Consider infant mortality. In Iceland, for every 1,000 live births, two children die before their first birthday. In Mozambique, the figure is 120 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. Similarly, in Bolivia, babies born to women with no education are twice as likely to die within a year than babies born to mothers with at least a secondary education. And these disparities cont...

Is gender equality destined to remain our perpetual aspirational dream?

The global record on gender equality remains mixed with progress on many fronts, but gaps remaining in others.The 2015 Human Development Report ‘Work for Human Development’, twenty years after the issue was first addressed in 1995 Human Development Report, testifies to this fact.   Progress has been made on many important counts (e.g. on primary education, political participation), as well as inertia and stagnation on others (e.g. employment, health). In the public domain, women are now represented in far greater numbers today than before – whether in elected office, or in the executive or judiciary. They have entered streams of work that were traditionally considered male bastions – breaking many stereotypes and expectations. When we look at global experience, education and employmen...

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