Thursday, November 04, 2010

2010 Human Development Report released

The United Nations annual Human Development Report was released today, marking the 20th anniversary of the survey. For this special edition, the writers of the report looked back to previous issues to see if human development has progressed since the study began. The report claims that there has been great progress, and the greatest has been in the world's poorest countries.

From the BBC, writer David Loyn gives us some of the report details. More information can be found from the UN's website, including the entire document available for download.

There has been most progress in the areas of health and education, sectors which have received most focus in development assistance.

After all this number-crunching, the UNDP believe that there is no magic bullet, one-size-fits-all route out of poverty - "no single model or uniform prescription for success".

Progress has been achieved in dictatorships and democracies, on islands and in landlocked countries, and in places with different colonial histories.

And this anniversary report is an affirmation of the starting point of the economists who began searching, a generation ago, for a better way of measuring the quality of human life.

The report concludes that progress does not depend on economic growth alone, but also on life expectancy, better access to health care, education, transport and so on.

There is no direct link between economic growth and improvement in human development: some countries have grown wealthier without necessarily improving the fortunes of those at the bottom.

The starkest example of this is the progress achieved for the poorest in Bangladesh, relative to India, although Bangladesh has not had economic growth at anything like the same level as its giant South Asian neighbour.

In Africa only three countries have gone backwards since 1970 - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Zambia - the first two because of conflict and bad government, and the last principally because of HIV/Aids.

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