Major gains of the South in Human Development Index

15 Mar 2013

Norway, Australia and the United States lead the rankings of 187 countries and territories in the latest Human Development Index (HDI), while conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and drought-stricken Niger have the lowest scores in the HDI’s measurement.

New Horizons - The new HDI figures show consistent human development improvement in most countries.

“Over the past decades, countries across the world have been converging towards higher levels of human development, as shown by the Human Development Index,” says the 2013 Report.

All groups and regions have seen notable improvement in all HDI components, with faster progress in low and medium HDI countries. On this basis, the world is becoming less unequal.

Major pace of the most countries of the South in HDI

Hong Kong, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Lithuania showed the greatest 12-year HDI improvement in the Very High Human Development quartile of countries in the HDI.

Algeria, Kazakhstan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba were the top five HDI improvers in the High Human Development countries.

Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mongolia were the HDI growth leaders in the Medium Human Development grouping.

Inequality-adjusted HDI changes rankings

When the HDI is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, some of the wealthiest nations fall sharply in the rankings.

The United States falls from #3 to #16 in the inequality-adjusted HDI, and South Korea descends from #12 to #28.

Sweden, by contrast, rises from #7 to #4 when domestic HDI inequalities are taken into account.

“National averages hide large variations in human experience, and wide disparities remain within countries of both the North and the South,” the Report notes.

The report cites the case of the United States, with an HDI value of 0.94 overall, but an average of 0.75 for Latino residents and 0.70 for African-Americans.

A fuller portrait of poverty than income measurements

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) examines factors at the household level—such as adult literacy, children’s school enrolment, child mortality, access to clean water, electricity and sanitation, as well as basic household goods and home construction.

Yet the largest absolute numbers of multidimensionally poor people live in South Asia, including 612 million in India alone.


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