Measurement of Development: Predecessors of the Human Development Index

  • Tadashi Hirai


This chapter examines nine well-known composite indices created in the past to determine their lessons and to identify the added-value of the HDI. The conceptual investigation covers the identification of development approaches and institutions supporting each index. The operational investigation covers the selection of dimensions and variables, the methods of transformation and standardisation, and various weighting systems. It turns out that the HDI has shared most operational features with the past indices. Although nothing could be seen as its direct predecessor, some commonalities exist in most of them sporadically. Nevertheless, two original advantages of the HDI can be identified: the inclusion and treatment of income as a variable, and the possibility to make explicit the value judgement behind the index.


National Standard Composite Index General Index General Indicator Capability Approach 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Tadashi Hirai
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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