Social Indicators Research

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 953–974 | Cite as

Are Major Events Capable of Affecting Country Rankings? Validating Composite Indexes of Human Progress and Environmental Performance

  • Adrian OţoiuEmail author
  • Emilia Ţiţan


A desired characteristic of composite indicators is sensitivity to major adverse events. This paper explores how major civil wars and the 2004 tsunami have influenced Human Development Index (HDI) and Environmental Performance Index (EPI) index values of the affected countries, respectively. The analysis shows that HDI and EPI scores have barely changed, being almost exclusively due to variations in GNI/capita for HDI and air quality for EPI. This casts doubt on the composite indexes’ usefulness and their ability to reflect major environmental and societal changes in the affected countries, or shows which dimensions are truly resilient to these events and can constitute a sustainable base for postwar/post-disaster recovery. Human progress and ecological indicators may need an overhaul, in order to account for the changes that actually happen at a point in time, in order to capture substantial changes in the socio-economic and ecological fabric of a country.


Composite indicators HDI HPI Environment Public policy 

JEL Classification

C14 C43 Q57 



We would like to thank two anonymous referees for their thorough comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bucharest University of Economic StudiesBucharestRomania

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