Eastern Europe and Central Asia: The frontier of change

15 Mar 2013

2013 Human Development Report states that nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are on the frontier of new phase of human development. “Connecting the North and the rising South is the transforming East,” the Report says, referring to the region.


New Horizons - The experience of many states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in managing a rapid transition from centrally planned to market economies holds useful lessons for developing countries elsewhere, says the Report. 

The first phase of the transformation began with a sharp drop in living standards and human development.

While each country managed a subsequent recovery, the overall experience underscores the importance of social inclusion and a responsible role for the state.

Sultanoğlu: The experience of Eastern Europe and Central Asia holds a lesson

“The experience of many states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in managing a rapid transition holds useful lessons for developing countries elsewhere,” explains Cihan Sultanoğlu, who heads UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

She adds further that the overall experience underscores the importance of social inclusion and a responsible role for the state.

Many countries of the region - such as Croatia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkey - have become increasingly important aid donors, with disbursements exceeding $4 billion in 2011.

These emerging donors are also active in bilateral or trilateral exchange of knowledge with countries with common heritage or beyond.

In recent years Romania has shared its experience conducting elections with Egypt and Tunisia, Poland has helped Iraq with small and medium-size enterprise development.

Furthermore, the Czech Republic has cooperated with Azerbaijan on environmental impact assessments and Slovakia has assisted Moldova and Montenegro in public finance management.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia in Human Development Index

The average HDI value for the region of 0.771 is above all other regions average and above the world average of 0.694.

Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered annual growth of 0.70% in HDI value, placing it fifth.

The region does well in all the HDI components indicators, leading other regions on mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling and GNI per capita.

Its average life expectancy at birth of 71.5 years places it in the third position on this indicator. The region’s average mean years of schooling of 10.4 years, is nearly 3 years above the world average of 7.5 years.

The average gross national income per capita of $12,423 is nearly 20% above the world average of $10,184.

Relative to other regions, inequality in distribution of HDI achievement appears minimal in Europe and Central Asia Region.

The overall loss when the HDI is adjusted for inequalities is 12.9%, about half the world average loss of 23.3%.

The income component is where the loss due to inequality is highest in the region followed by health. The biggest loss due to inequalities is suffered by Turkey.

The average Gender Inequality Index value for the region is 0.280 making it the best performer relative to other regions.

In terms of components, the region outperforms other regions on maternal deaths and proportion of females with at least secondary education. However, it does not do so well when it comes to female share of parliamentary seats.

Multi-dimensional poverty is relatively minimal in this region. In absolute numbers, Turkey has the largest number of people suffering overlapping deprivation (4.4 million people).

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