Progress in Human Development – Are we on the right path?

Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan, Srijit Mishra
JEL codes: 
Working Paper Series

The conventional measure of Human Development Index (HDI) is a linear average across dimensions, HDI1. Under this, poor attainments in any dimension gets perfectly compensated for better attainments in any other dimension HDI2, which is based on Euclidean distance measuring shortfall from the ideal, addresses the above anomaly. In our analysis of progress, we use HDI2 to develop the notion of an ideal path and penalty to capture deviation from this; and a measure of fluctuation. The measures are applied to 127 countries for the period 1990-2004. The results show that Sub-Saharan countries have suffered on account of sharp decline in health suggesting prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic. In case of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the income dimension got jolted in the nineties indicating their economic collapse after Soviet disintegration. We also find some of the emerging economies progressing well along the ideal path. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Human Development Report, this paper is timely and would engage academia and public policy to have a critical look favouring a balanced development across the three dimensions of HDI – health, education and standard of living.