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Robust human development rankings

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 November 2008

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 November 2008


The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) considers scores in three dimensions – income, school enrolment and literacy rate, longevity – and combines them into a single figure that measures the degree of development of a given country. However, there is disagreement about (1) how to weight the scores in the different dimensions and (2) how to aggregate the weighted scores over the different dimensions. At the risk of stressing the obvious, changes in weighting and/or aggregation will affect the country rankings. First, we focus on robust rankings, i.e., rankings which hold for a wide set of weighting and/or aggregation procedures. Second, we show that all proposed ranking procedures can be implemented via linear programming techniques. Third, we illustrate how our methodology can prove useful in assessing the robustness of the human development country ranking/classification (produced annually by the United Nations) in a descriptive and statistical way.

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Correspondence to Erwin Ooghe.

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An erratum to this article can be found at

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Cherchye, L., Ooghe, E. & Van Puyenbroeck, T. Robust human development rankings. J Econ Inequal 6, 287–321 (2008).

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  • Human development index
  • Lorenz dominance
  • Linear programming
  • Robustness analysis

JEL Classification

  • C61
  • D63
  • I31
  • O10