The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 249–288 | Cite as

The HDI 2010: new controversies, old critiques

  • Jeni Klugman
  • Francisco Rodríguez
  • Hyung-Jin Choi
Article

Abstract

Since its introduction in the first Human Development Report in 1990, the Human Development Index (HDI) has attracted great interest in policy and academic circles, as well as in the media and national audiences around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to the simplicity of its characterization of development - an average of achievements in health, education and income – and to its underlying message that development is much more than economic growth. The index was originally conceived by the late Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, in collaboration with Amartya Sen and other scholars, as a response to their dissatisfaction with GDP as the standard measure of development. As Haq noted, “Any measure that values a gun several hundred times more than a bottle of milk is bound to raise serious questions about its relevance for human progress.” Yet the HDI’s very simplicity prompted critiques from the start, with some contending that it was too simplistic, while others who accepted its self-imposed limitations still questioned its choice of indicators and its computational methodology. This article discusses the concept and key insights learnt from the HDI, provides a detailed review of key critiques of the HDI, today and in the past, and explains the recent changes introduced to the HDI formula and indicators. Recent controversies are highlighted and placed in the context of longer running debates. The innovations to broaden the measurement of deprivations and disparities in human development are introduced, with some key global and regional insights.

Keywords

Human development Education Health Developing countries Inequality Poverty 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Alkire, S., Foster, J.: Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (HDI). Human Development Research Paper 28. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alkire, S., Santos, M.: Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries. Human Development Research Paper 11. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anand, S., Sen, A.: Human Development Index: Methodology and Measurement. Background paper for Human Development Report 1993. UNDP-HDRO, New York (1992)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Anand, S., Sen, A.: Gender Inequality in Human Development: Theories and Measurement. Human Development Report Office Occasional Paper 19. UNDP-HDRO, New York (1995)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Anand, S., Sen, A.: Concepts of Human Development and Poverty: A Multidimensional Perspective. In: Human Development Papers 1997: Poverty and Human Development: 1–19. UNDP-HDRO, New York (1997)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anand, S., Sen, A.: The income component of the human development index. J. Hum. Dev. 1(1), 83–106 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Atkinson, A.B.: On the measurement of inequality. J. Econ. Theory 2, 244–263 (1970)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bairoch, P.: Economics and World History: Myths and Paradoxes. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1993)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Barro, R.J.: Economic growth in a cross section of countries. Q. J. Econ. 106(2), 407–443 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Barro, R.J., Lee, J.W.: International comparisons of educational attainment. J. Monetary Econ. 32, 363–394 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Barro, R.J., Lee, J.W.: International measures of schooling years and schooling quality. Am. Econ. Rev. 86, 218–223 (1996)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Barro, R.J., Lee, J.W.: International data on educational attainment: updates and implications. Oxf. Econ. Pap. 3, 541–563 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Barro, R.J., Lee, J.W.: A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World, 1950–2010. NBER Working Paper No. 15902. National Bureau of Economic Research, Massachusetts (2010)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Barro, R.J., Sala-i-Martin, X.: Economic Growth, 2nd edn. The MIT Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Becker, G.S., Philipson, T.J., Soares, R.R.: The quantity and quality of life and the evolution of world inequality. Am. Econ. Rev. 95(1), 277–291 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bosworth, B., Collins, S.: The empirics of growth: an update. Brookings Pap. Econ. Activ. 4, 136–147 (2003)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Brandolini, A: On Applying Synthetic Indices of Multidimensional Well-being: Health and Income Inequalities in Selected EU Countries. Temi di discussion (Economic working papers) 668. Economic Research Department, Bank of Italy (2007)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cahill, M.: Is the human development index redundant? East. Econ. J. 31(1), 12–19 (2005)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chakravarty, S.R.: A generalized human development index. Rev. Dev. Econ. 7(1), 99–114 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chatterjee, S.K.: Measurement of human development—an alternative approach. J. Hum. Dev. 6(1), 31–53 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dasgupta, P., Weale, M.: On measuring the quality of life. World Dev. 20(1), 119–131 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Decancq, K., Decoster, A., Schokkaert, E.: The Evolution in World Inequality in Well-being. Discussion Paper Series 07/04. Center for Economic Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (2007)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Desai, M.J.: Human development: concepts and measurement. Eur. Econ. Rev. 35(2/3), 350–357 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Durlauf, S., Johnson, P., Temple, J.: Growth econometrics. In: Aghion, P., Durlauf, S. (eds.) Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 1, part A, chapter 8, pp. 555–677. Amsterdam (2005)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Easterly, B., Freschi, L.: The First Law of Development Stats: Whatever our Bizarre Methodology, We make Africa look Worse. Retrieved from http://aidwatchers.com/2010/12/the-first-law-of-development-stats-whatever-our-bizarre-methodology-we-make-africa-look-worse/ (2010)
  26. 26.
    Foster, J.E., Lopez-Calva, L.F., Szekely, M.: Measuring distribution of human development: methodology and an application to Mexico. J. Hum. Dev. 6(1), 5–25 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gaertner, W., Xu, Y.: Capability sets as the basis of a new measure of human development. J. Hum. Dev. 7(3), 311–321 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    García, C., Kovacevic, M.: Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis of the Human Development Index. Human Development Research Paper 47. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Gaye, A., Klugman, J., Kovacevic, M., Twigg, S., Zambrano, E.: Measuring Key Disparities in Human Development: the Gender Inequality Index. Human Development Research Paper 46. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gertner, J.: The Rise and Fall of the G.D.P. The New York Times. May 13 (2010)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hawken, A., Munck, G.: Cross-National Indices with Gender-Differentiated Data: What Do They Measure? How Valid Are They? Technical Background Paper for the forthcoming UNDP Asia Pacific Human Development Report on Gender. United Nations Development Programme, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Herrero, C., Martínez, R., Villar, A.: A Multiplicative Human Development Index. Working Paper, Fundación BBVA/BBVA Foundation (2005)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Herrero, C., Martínez, R., Villar, A.: Improving the Measurement of Human Development. Human Development Research Paper 12. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibrahim, S., Alkire, S.: Agency and empowerment: a proposal for internationally comparable indicators. Oxf. Dev. Stud. 35, 379–403 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kabeer, N.: Resources, agency, achievement: reflections on the measurement of women’s empowerment. Dev. Change 30(3), 435–464 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Klasen, S., Schüler, D.: Reforming the Gender-Related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM): Implementing Some Specific Proposals. IAI Discussion Paper 186. Ibero America Institute for Economic Research, Göttingen, Germany (2010)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Klasen, S., Nguefack, G., Zucchini, W.: On weighting the components of the human development index: a statistical justification. J. Hum. Dev. Capabilities 12(2), (2012)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kovacevic, M.: Review of HDI Critiques and Potential Improvements. Human Development Research Paper 33. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Leontief, W.W.: Quantitative input and output relations in the economic systems of the United States. Rev. Econ. Stat. 18(3), 105–125 (1936)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Maddison, A.: Historical Statistics of the World Economy: 1–2008 AD. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris (2010)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    McGillivray, M.: The human development index: yet another redundant composite development indicator? World Dev. 19(10), 1461–1468 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Narayan, D.: Measuring Empowerment: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. World Bank, Washington, DC (2005)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Nathan, H.S.K., Mishra, S., Reddy, B. S.: An Alternative Approach to Measure HDI. IGIDR Working Paper WP-2008-002 (2008)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Neumayer, E.: Weak versus Strong Sustainability—Exploring the Limits of Two Opposing Paradigms. Elgar, Cheltenham (1999)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Neumayer, E.: Human Development and Sustainability. Human Development Research Paper 5. UNDP-HDRO, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Noorbakhsh, F.: The human development index: some technical issues and alternative indices. J. Int. Dev. 10(5), 589–605 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Nussbaum, M.: Women and Human Development: the Capabilities Approach. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2000)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Nussbaum, M.: Frontiers of Justice. Belnap/Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2006)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Palazzi, P., Lauri, A.: The human development index: suggested corrections. Banca Nazionale Lav. Q. Rev. 51(205), 193–221 (1998)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ravallion, M.: Good and bad growth: the human development reports. World Dev. 25(5), 631–638 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Ravallion, M.: Mashup Indices of Development. Policy Research Working Paper 5432. World Bank, Washington DC (2010)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ravallion, M.: Troubling Tradeoffs in the Human development Index. Policy Research Working Paper 5484. World Bank, Washington DC (2010)Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Riley, J.C.: Poverty and Life Expectancy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2005)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Robeyns, I.: The capability approach: a theoretical survey. J. Hum. Dev. Capabilities 6(1), 93–114 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rodríguez, F.: The anarchy of numbers: understanding the evidence on Venezuelan economic growth. Can. J. Dev. Stud. 27(4), 503–529 (2006)Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Rodríguez, F.: What the New HDI Tells Us about Africa. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/lets-talk-hd/2010-12a/ (2010)
  57. 57.
    Rodríguez, F.: Interpreting Trade-offs in the HDI: A Response to the Critique of World Bank Economist Martin Ravallion. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/lets-talk-hd/2010-12c/ (2010)
  58. 58.
    Rodrik, D.: The Unsung Development Miracles of Our Time. Retrieved from http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2010/11/the-unsung-development-miracles-of-our-time.html (2010)
  59. 59.
    Sagar, A.D., Najam, A.: The human development index: a critical review. Ecol. Econ. 25(3), 249–264 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Scanlon, T.M.: What We Owe to Each Other. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1999)Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Seth, S.: A Class of Association Sensitive Multidimensional Welfare Indices. OPHI Working Paper No. 27, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK (2009)Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Sen, A.: Commodities and Capabilities. Elsevier, Amsterdam (1985)Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Sen, A.: Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1999)Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Sen, A.: Rationality and Freedom. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2002)Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Sen, A.: Forward. In: Fukuda-Parr, S., Shiva Kumar, A.K. (eds.) Readings in Human Development, Concepts, Measures and Policies for a Development Paradigm. Oxford University Press, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Sen, A.: The economics of happiness and capability. In: Bruni, L., Comim, F., Pugno, M. (eds.) Capabilities and Happiness, pp. 16–27. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2008)Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Sen, A.: The Idea of Justice. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2009)Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Sen, G., Batliwala, S.: Empowering women for reproductive rights. In: Presser, H.B., Sen, G. (eds.) Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Processes: Moving Beyond Cairo, pp. 15–36. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2000)Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Srinivasan, T.N.: Human development: a new paradigm or a reinvention of the wheel? Am. Econ. Rev. 84(2), 238–243 (1994)Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A., Fitoussi, J.: Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, Paris (2009)Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    ul Haq, M.: Reflections on Human Development. Oxford University Press, New York (1995)Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    UNDESA-PD (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division): World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision Population Database. New York (2009)Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)–Human Development Report Office. 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2009, 2010. Human Development Reports 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2009, 2010. New York: Oxford University Press through 2005; and Palgrave Macmillan since 2006Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    UNESCO Institute for Statistics: School-Life Expectancy. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/i_pages/indspec/tecspe_sle.htm (2011)
  75. 75.
    Wagstaff, A.: Whither the Development Agency’s Flagship Report? Retrieved from http://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/whither-the-development-agency-s-flagship-report (2011)
  76. 76.
    Williamson, J.: What Washington means by policy reform. In: Williamson, J. (ed.) Latin American Adjustment: How Much has Happened. Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC (1990)Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Wolff, H., Chong, H., Auffhammer, M.: Classification, Detection and Consequences of Data Error: Evidence from the Human Development Index. NBER Working Paper Series (2010)Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    World Bank: World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty. Oxford University Press, New York (2000)Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    World Bank: Where is the Wealth of Nations? Washington, DC (2006)Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    World Bank: World Development Indicators 2010. Washington, DC (2010)Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Zambrano, E.: Functionings, Capabilities and the 2010 Human Development Index. Manuscript (2011)Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Zambrano, E.: Measuring HDI Measurements: Why the New Model Works Best. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/lets-talk-hd/ (2011)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeni Klugman
    • 1
  • Francisco Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Hyung-Jin Choi
    • 1
  1. 1.UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO)New YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations