Social Indicators Research

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 1–27 | Cite as

International Convergence in Well-Being Indicators

  • Vanesa Jordá
  • José María Sarabia


We re-examine the concept of beta-convergence in living standards across countries during the period 1980–2012. In this study, well-being is assessed using the Human Development Index (HDI) which considers income aspects as well as social indicators, thus reflecting the multidimensional nature of this process. The existence of sigma convergence is evidenced in this study and hence beta convergence, as a necessary condition, is also pointed out. However, the linearity of this process has been questioned. Therefore, we apply a semiparametric specification of this process to the HDI and each of its intermediate indices. These models allows for nonlinearities in the estimation of the convergence speed. Our results reveal that absolute convergence in human well-being is satisfactorily represented by the conventional linear specification. However the income and education indices show nonlinear patterns. We also include structural variables to capture differences in the steady-state (conditional convergence). Under this model, convergence speed of all indicators is higher and the convergence process seems to be linear only for the health index.


Well-being Beta-convergence Sigma-convergence Semiparametric regression Human Development Index 



The authors thank the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Project ECO2010-15455) and the Ministerio de Educación (FPU AP-2010-4907) for partial support of this work. Authors are grateful for the constructive suggestions provided by the reviewers, which improved the paper substantially.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CantabriaSantanderSpain

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