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Human Development Index by UNDP 2018

  • 09 Jan 2019
  • 31 min read

The underlying principle of the HDI, considered path breaking in 1990, (created by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq) is elegantly simple: National development should be measured not only by income per capita, but also by health and education achievements.

The HDI is the composite measure of every country’s attainment in three basic dimensions:

  • Standard of living measured by the gross national income (GNI) per capita.
  • Health measured by the life expectancy at birth.
  • Education levels calculated by mean years of education among the adult population and the expected years of schooling for children.

This index makes it possible to follow changes in development levels over time and to compare the development levels of different countries.

Additional indices have been developed to capture other dimensions of human development to identify groups falling behind in human progress and to monitor the distribution of human development.

In 2010 three indices were launched to monitor poverty, inequality and gender empowerment across multiple human development dimensions

  • The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI),
  • The Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)
  • The Gender Inequality Index (GII).

In 2014 the Gender Development Index (GDI) was introduced.

Recent Findings

  • HDI values have been rising across all regions and human development groups but the rates vary significantly.
  • South Asia was the fastest growing region over 1990–2017, at 45.3 percent, followed by East Asia and the Pacific at 41.8 percent and Sub-Saharan Africa at 34.9 percent.
  • But HDI growth has also slowed in all regions, particularly in the last decade. Part of the reason lies in the 2008–2009 global food, financial and economic crises.
  • Top five countries in the global HDI ranking are Norway (0.953), Switzerland (0.944), Australia (0.939), Ireland (0.938) and Germany (0.936).
  • The bottoms five are Burundi (0.417), Chad (0.404), South Sudan (0.388), the Central African Republic (0.367) and Niger (0.354).
  • The largest increase is in Ireland’s rank between 2012 and 2017, which moved up 13 places.


Inequalities in human development — a grave challenge to progress

Human development gaps reflect unequal opportunity in access to education, health, employment, credit and natural resources due to gender, group identity, income disparities and location.

  • It can fuel extremism and undermine support for inclusive and sustainable development
  • It can have adverse consequences for social cohesion and the quality of institutions and policies
  • Inequality in income contributes the most to overall inequality, followed by education and life expectancy.
  • When accounting inequality, global HDI value of 0.728 falls to 0.582 which represents a drop from the high human development category to the medium.
  • The average HDI value for women (0.705) is 5.9 percent lower than that for men (0.749).
  • Much of the gap is due to women’s lower income and educational attainment in many countries which is widest in low human development countries with average HDI value is 13.8 percent lower for women than for men.
  • Life expectancy averages 79.5 years in very high human development countries, compared with 60.8 in low human development countries.

Not Quantity but Quality

  • Achievements in human development should be expressed not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of quality. As the increase in any absolute number does not necessarily transpires as an increase in the quality.
  • Despite witnessing a great increase in the number of avg. years in school since 1990s it transpires little as improved capabilities. This contrast is starker in low human development countries.

Environmental degradation

  • Degradation of the environment is linked to other development concerns ranging from declining food and water supplies to losses of livelihood and to losses of life from extreme weather events.
  • Countries with higher HDI are biggest contributor to climate change.

India at HDI

  • India has jumped one place from 2017 to 130 in 2018 in HDI. Avg. expected life expectancy at birth is 68.8 years. Expected years at schooling stands at 12.3 years with a mean of 6.4 years along with a GNI (gross national income) of Rs. 6,353.
  • India has seen a positive change of 50% in its HDI value since its inception in 1990 from 0.427 to 0.640 in 2018.
  • 2000-10 decade saw the highest annual growth rate at 1.64 %.

IHDI (Inequality adjusted Human Development Index), its value suffers a decline from 0.640 to 0.468 witnessing a 26.8% loss. Inequality is measured in the sphere of gender inequality, education, income etc.

Gender Development Index

Ratio of female to male HDI values.

  • Countries are divided in 5 groups based on their deviation from gender parity in HDI values with group 1 having highest equality with a deviation of less than 2.5% and group 5 having the least equality having a deviation of more than 10% in parity.
  • India is in the 5th group with GDI value of 0.841, which reflects the glaring inequality met to the women of the nation.
  • Life expectancy for women in the nation is higher than men with 70.4 years at birth with men’s at 67.3 years.
  • Expected schooling years for women is higher at 12.9 years where men lags at 11.9 years, however avg. years of schooling shows a great contrast in both men and women where it falls by almost 3 quarters for women at 4.8 years and 1/3rd for men as well at 8.2 years of average schooling.
  • Estimated Gross National Income per capita Derived from the ratio of female to male wages, female and male shares of economically active population and gross national income shows a huge gap with women at as low as Rs. 2,722 and men at 9,889 rupees.

Gender Inequality Index (GII)

A composite measure reflecting inequality in achievement between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market.

  • GII value for India is 0.524 and it is ranked at 127.
  • MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) for India is estimated at 174 deaths per lakh in the year 2015, which has reduced to 130 in 2014-16 period according to a data released by the office of Registrar General of India.
  • India seeks to reduce its MMR by 70 per lakh by 2030 as its SDG target 5.5
  • Adolescent Birth Rate (Number of births to women per 1,000 women aged 15-19) for the period 2015-2020 is estimated at 23.1. India fares better than most of its neighbor except China which sits at 6.4 births per thousand.
  • Indian parliament has as many as 11.6 % women legislators in the house where table leader Rwanda has more than 55% women in their parliament demonstrating an immediate need to include more women in legislating process and making it more equitable.
  • Only 39% females had at least some secondary education (aged 25 or more) in comparison to 63.5% male that had exposure to some secondary education during the period 2010-17.
  • Labor Force Participation i.e. Proportion of the working-age population (aged 15 and older) that engages in the labor market, either by working or actively looking for work, expressed as a percentage of the working-age population is paltry 27.2 % for women and 78.8% for male.

Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

  • India is valued at 0.121
  • During the survey year 2015-16, 27.5% population of India was in multi-dimensional poverty.
  • 19.1 % Indian population was at risk of suffering multiple deprivations—that is, those with a deprivation score of 20–33 percent.
  • 8.6% people are in severe multi-dimensional poverty.
  • 21.9% people lives below poverty line in India with 21.2 % people earning less than 1.90 dollar a day.

Indicators of Human Development

  • Population Trends
    • Indian population is estimated at 1339.2 million in 2017 and is estimated to reach 1513 million by 2030.
    • Average annual growth rate in 2005-10 was 1.5% and 2015-2020 is estimated to witness a marginal decline to 1.1%.
    • 33.6% of Indian population is living in urban areas with a very young population.
    • 119.8 million Population is below 5 with 886.9 million in working age population 15-64.
    • India has miniscule ageing population with only 80 million of its population above 65 years.
    • Median age for India in 2015 came at 26.7 in 2015 which is expected to further decline.
    • Indian TFR (Total Fertility Rate) is expected to be 2.3 during 2015-20.
  • Health Outcomes
    • Only 54.9 % of infants aged between 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed which is very essential for a child’s optimal growth, development and health at least till 6 months of age.
    • 9% of one year olds lacked immunization for DPT (Diphtheria, Polio, and Tetanus) and 12% for measles.
    • 37.9% of children aged below 5 were suffering either from moderate or severe form of stunting.
    • IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) is 34.6 per thousand live births which are to be brought to 12 per 1000 by 2030.
    • Mortality rate for Under 5 is 43 per 1000 with task of cutting it almost to its half by 2030 to 25.
    • Female mortality rate in India is 139 and 212 for male per thousand respectively.
    • India being a tropical country is always under a constant threat of climate related epidemics such as dengue, malaria etc. Incidence of malaria is 18.8 people per thousand at 2016 levels.
    • India remains to be the highest TB burden country according to WHO, with as many as 211 people per lakh suffering from either newly contacted or relapsed TB.
    • India spends 3.9% of its GDP on health expenditure.
  • Education Achievement
    • Literacy rate during 2006-2016 was 69.3% for all adult aged 15 and above.
    • Youth literacy that is aged 15-24 during the same period for female was 81.8 % and for male was 90%.
    • 51.6% people aged 25 and above had at least some form of secondary education.
    • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in pre-primary was 13% of pre-primary school age children showing acute under admission and lack of importance given to early years of schooling in India during 2012-17.
    • GER for primary was 115% of pre-primary school age population, showing lack of promotion, over admission.
    • 75% of secondary age population is enrolled for secondary education with tertiary education registering as low as only 27% enrolment.
    • Primary school dropout rate in India during 2007-2016 was 9.8%.
    • Survival rate to the last grade of lower secondary general education during 2016-16 was 97%.
    • Total government expenditure on education is a paltry 3.8% of total GDP.
  • National Income and Composition of Resources
    • Total GDP of India in 2017 was 8,605.5 billion dollars.
    • GDP per capita was 6,427 dollars.
    • Total tax revenue formed 11% f the total GDP during 2007-17.
    • In 2017, GDP per capita growth for India was 5.4%.
    • Total tax revenue was 11% of the GDP in 2017.
    • Domestic credit provided by financial sector was 75 %of the GDP during the period 2012-17.
  • Work and Employment
    • Employment to population ratio is (the total percentage of people employed out of total population aged 15 or above) 51.9%.
    • Labor force participation rate (people eligible and willing to work) stands at 53.8%.
    • Of the total employed population 42.7% people are employed in agricultural sector and 33.5% in service sector.
    • 3.5% of the total labor force is unemployed of which youth (aged 15-24) comprises of 10.5%.
    • 27.5% of youth are neither employed nor in school.
    • 42.9% of the total employed people are working poor i.e. are working for as low as 3.10 dollars a day.
    • Only 24.1 % of the statutory pension age population receives pension, leaving a major chunk of old-age people vulnerable.
  • Human Security
    • 80% of children aged 5 or below are registered at birth in India, unlike its smaller neighbor Bhutan which has a 100% registration rate at birth.
    • There are as many as 806 thousand Internally Displaced people living in India.
    • Every year 461 people out of every million are left homeless due to one or the other natural disaster in India.
    • 33 people out of every one lakh people find themselves in jail, demonstrating low conviction rate.
    • Every 14.2 females per lakh females and 17.9 male per lakh males commit suicide in India.
  • Human and Capital Mobility
    • Capital
      • Trade (imports and exports) formed 40% of Indian GDP with FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), net inflows forming 1.5% of Indian GDP.
      • Official Development assistance (ODA) contributes 0.1% to the gross national income (2016).
      • Remittances and inflows formed 2.66% of GDP in 2017.
    • Human
      • Net migration rate of India is -0.4 per thousand people i.e. there is an intake of migrants in India corresponding to 0.4% of the population.
    • Communication
      • In 2016, 29.5 % of total population used internet with as many as 85.2 people per 100 using mobile phones in 2016 showing great digital penetration in India and growing familiarity with digital architecture.
      • India witnessed a 39.4% positive change in mobile usage from 2010 to 2016.
  • Supplementary indicators: perceptions of well-being (2012-17)*
    • Perceptions of individual well beings
      • 79% Indians feels satisfied by the quality of education.
      • With 65 % and 76% by health care quality and standard of living respectively.
      • 69% of females felt safe in India during the mentioned period while 77% male felt so.
      • Indians were greatly satisfied by the freedom of choice they got with as many as 83% female and 89% male.
    • Perception about the Community
      • Only 44% of the people in the country felt that there were good conditions in the country to find jobs.
    • Perception about the government
      • 83% people had confidence in judicial system and 84% people having trust in national government.
      • 77% of the people showed satisfaction in the level of work undertaken to preserve environment.
  • Status of Fundamental Human Rights Treaties
    • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965 (ICERD)
      • Prohibits all forms of racial discrimination—defined as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
      • It sets out the obligations of the state to combat this phenomenon.
      • The Convention also requires a state to take appropriate measures against racial discrimination, including the propagation of racist ideas advocated by groups and organizations.
      • Treaty came into effect 4th Jan 1969.
      • It was ratified by India in 1968.
    • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR)
      • All individuals possess civil and political rights, such as the right to self-determination, the right to life, the freedom of religion, of speech and of assembly, the right to equality, and the right to effective legal recourse.
      • Some of the rights, such as the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of one’s life, freedom from torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, may not be suspended or derogated even in a state of emergency.
      • The ICCPR, its optional protocols, the ICESCR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights together form the International Bill of Human Rights.
      • Treaty is in force since 23rd March 1969.
      • India joined the treaty in 1979.
    • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 (ICESCR)
      • It establishes economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to work in just and favorable conditions, to social protection, to participate in cultural life etc. The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights.
      • It came into effect in 3rd Jan 1976.
      • India joined the treaty in 1979.
    • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979 (CEDAW)
      • It is the first global and comprehensive legally binding international treaty aimed at the elimination of all forms of sex-based discrimination against women.
      • It requires states to incorporate the principle of gender equality in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation and to ensure the practical realization of that principle.
      • It came into effect in 3rd of September 1981.
      • India joined the treaty in 1993.
    • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984 (CAT)
      • Defines and outlaws torture and other forms of ill-treatment under all circumstances and requires states to criminalize it under domestic law, prevent its occurrence and educate their law enforcement and other personnel about the prohibition of torture.
      • States commit to not extradite, deport a person if they are at risk of being tortured in the territory to which they would return.
      • It also puts the universal obligation to prosecute or extradite any individual accused of having committed torture.
      • It came into effect in 26th June 1987.
      • India is not a signatory to this treaty.
    • Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (CRC)
      • It defines a child as a person under the age of 18 and sets standards for health, education, legal, civil, and social services for children in accordance with four general principles:
        1. Non-discrimination between children.
        2. Best interest of the child
        3. The right to life, survival and development of the child.
        4. Respect for the views of the child.
      • Treaty came into effect in 2nd September 1990
      • India signed the treaty in 1992.
    • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990 (ICMW)
      • It establishes minimum standards that states should apply to migrant workers and members of their families, regardless of their migratory status.
      • Such standards apply to the entire migration process, from preparation for migration, departure and transit to the total period of stay and remunerated activity in the state of employment and the return to the state of origin or of habitual residence.
      • It came into force on 1st July 2003.
      • India is not a signatory to the convention.
    • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, 2000 (CRC-AC)
      • Requires states to take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities.
      • To ban compulsory recruitment below the age of 18.
      • To take legal measures to prohibit independent armed groups from recruiting and using children under the age of 18 in conflicts.
      • It came into effect in 12th February 2002.
      • India signed the convention in 2005.
    • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 2000 (CRC-SC)
      • It prohibits the sale of children for sexual and non-sexual purposes, child prostitution and child pornography.
      • It provides states with detailed requirements to end the exploitation and abuse of children.
      • It requires ratifying states to provide legal and other support to child victims and to criminalize and punish the activities related to these offences.
      • Protocol came into effect in 18th Jan 2002.
      • India signed the protocol in 2005.
    • International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 2006 (ICPED)
      • Prohibits enforced disappearance, defined as the abduction or deprivation of liberty of a person by state authorities,
      • It establishes minimum legal standards on its prevention, combating impunity, effective law enforcement and upholding the rights of victims.
      • The convention also enshrines the right of victims to the truth and to reparations.
      • Convention came into effect in 23rd Dec 2010.
      • India is not a signatory to this convention.
    • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 (CRPD)
      • Guarantees the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms to persons with disabilities and promotes respect for their inherent dignity.
      • It considers disability as the result of an interaction between an individual’s condition and an inaccessible society.
      • The barriers that can make society inaccessible are manifold and the Convention identifies these barriers as discriminatory and requires their removal.
      • Convention came into force in 3rd of May 2008.
      • India signed the convention in 2007.

Human Development Dashboards

  • Quality of human development
    • Quality of health
      • India lost 13.9% in total life expectancy as health expectancy in 2016.
      • There were only 7.6 physicians per 10,000 people in the period 2007-17 falling behind Pakistan who have a better physician to people ratio with 9.8 physicians for every 10,000 people.
      • There are only 7 beds for every 10,000 people in India where a smaller nation like Nepal have 50 beds for every 10,000 people and has a lot to catch up with international standard.
    • Quality of education
      • There is only one teacher in primary schools for every 35 pupil in India falling in the bottom tercile. International model standard comes up to somewhere 15-18 pupils per children.
      • Only 70% teachers in primary schools are trained to teach in Indian schools.
    • Quality of standard of living
      • 77.5% of the employed people are engaged as unpaid family workers and own account workers.
      • 77.6% of the rural population had access to electricity in 2016.
      • 87.6% of the total population was using improved drinking water sources in 2015, with only 44.2 % people having access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015.
  • Life-Course Gender Gap
    • For every female birth 1.11 male is born in India (2015-2020).
    • Gross enrolment ratio in pre-primary, primary, and secondary during 2012-17 was 0.94, 1.17, and 1.02 respectively.
    • For every unemployed male 1.02 females are unemployed.
    • Only 0.64 female aged above 25 have some secondary education in comparison to one male having same educational standard.
    • 18.6% of total employment in non-agriculture sector comprises of women (industry, services).
  • Women’s empowerment
    • 85.7% 0f births were attended by skilled health personnel. (2012-17)
    • MMR during 2015 was 174 per lakh due to pregnancy related causes.
    • Contraceptive prevalence
      • 53.5% of married or in-union females aged 15- 49 had access to some form of contraceptive method.
      • 12.9% of the fecund women have the unmet need for family planning
    • Violence against women
      • 27% of women aged 20-24 are married before the age of 18. (child marriage)
    • Violence by intimate partner
      • 28.7% of female aged 15 and above have been victim of violence by their intimate partner
    • Socio-economic conditions
      • Of the total graduates in science, mathematics, engineering, manufacturing and constructions at tertiary level women contributed only 26.9%.
      • 76.6% of women aged 15 and above in India report having an account at some financial institution or with mobile money service provider.
      • Mandatory maternity leave in India is at par with global practices with 182 leaves.
  • Environmental stability
    • Fossil fuel consumption makes 73.5% of the total energy consumption in India. (2010-2015)
    • 36% of the total final energy consumption is renewable energy. (2015)
    • Carbon dioxide emission per capita is 1.7 tonnes which is the lowest in BRICS nation with Brazil accounting for 2.6, China- 7.5, South Africa -9 and Russian emission standing at 11.9 tonnes.
    • 23.8% of its total land area is covered with forest and there has been a 10.5% change in the value from 1990-2015.
    • Environmental threat
      • 184.3 people per 1,00,000 perished in 2016 due to home and ambient air pollution.
      • 18.6 people per lakh died due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene problem.
      • Red list index which measures the aggregate extinction risk across group of species based on actual change in the number of species place India in the bottom tercile with a value of 0.684.
  • Socio-economic sustainability
    • Total adjusted net saving (net national saving plus educational expenditure minus energy, mineral, forest depletion, CO2 and particulate emission damage) of India during the period of 2006-16 was 15.5% of the total GNI which is greater than 2/3rd nation’s saving.
    • Total gross capital formation during the period 2011-17 was 30.8% of GDP.
    • Only 18.5% of the total labor force was skilled in India, Less than 2/3rd nations.
    • Concentration Index-India’s export basket is not concentrated and has a homogenous mix in the products, sitting comfortably amongst the top tercile countries with a value of 0.120.
    • India spends a miniscule 0.6% of its GDP on research and development with a spending of 2.5 % of GDP on its defense.
    • India has cut down its overall loss in HDI value due to inequality by 1.4% in the 7 year period during 2010-17.

Takeaways of 2018 HDR (Human Development Report)

  • Significant increase in the development indicators can be seen throughout the nations. But the quality of human development reveals large deficits.
  • Progress is not linear or guaranteed, and crises and challenges can reverse gains.
  • Great Disparities between women and men in realizing their full potential.
  • Progress in human development cannot be sustained without addressing environmental degradation and climate change.

Steps Suggested

  • IHDI has been published in an effort to capture the distribution of human development within countries.
  • The greater the inequality, the lower the IHDI.
  • Shifting the focus towards the quality of human development is important in monitoring future progress.
  • Investment in human security to break cycles of vulnerability and conflict is essential to reduce vulnerabilities and sustain progress.
  • Human development to become truly sustainable, the world needs to break with business-as-usual approaches and adopt sustainable production and consumption patterns.
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