Human Development Index (HDI)

Human Development Index (HDI)

Published on : January 23, 2019

Human Development Index - India and G-20 countries

When we speak of progress, we speak of a relative term which, for a long time, did not have a measurable benchmark for comparison. As a result, it was difficult to make definitive statements about the progress of a country or a region. Not only is progress inherently relative but it is also a broad term that encompasses a wide range of issues, all of which need to be viewed in unison in order to assess progress.

Earlier, while it was easy to see that some countries had progressed or were progressing better than others, the question was, by how much? And between less well to do countries, was the progress similar? Were some developing countries progressing better than others? Is some progress sufficient? Or could countries do better by looking at their similarly sized peers? Any discussion on progress therefore threw up more questions than answers in the absence of a commonly accepted benchmark against which it could be measured.

It was to fill this gap and to make assessments of progress quantifiable that the economists Mahbub Haq and Amartya Sen developed a composite Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI is now de rigueur in assessing progress as it ranks countries in four categories of human development by assigning them a composite score that factors a host of important indicators.

In this study, the India Data Insights (IDI) team at Sattva has looked at HDI data that compares India with other G-20 countries which gives us an indication of where India stands when compared to these countries. This data is obtained from the Human Development Report of 2015 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and compares the HDI scores and indicators of G-20 countries in the preceding few years.

Reading the data:

We begin with the HDI scores themselves which are presented as Lolipop charts for the years 2011 to 2015 in the deck labelled ‘HDI Score’. The Lolipops are coloured based on whether the countries fall under the Very High, High or Medium category of HDI. These categories are provided by the index itself.

  • 350 – 0.554 is ‘Low’
  • 555 – 0.699 is ‘Medium’
  • 700 – 0.799 is ‘High’
  • 800 – 1.000 is ‘Very High’

None of the G-20 countries fall under the ‘Low’ HDI category. A horizontal line marks the world average score for these years and is coloured in the category of HDI the world average comes under. India’s HDI score is the lowest among all the G-20 countries and is also below the world average. Change in HDI scores is depicted in Graph 6.

The ranks that the countries receive follow the HDI scores, which gives us a clear idea of where the countries stand globally relative to each other. In this chart deck, we start with a map that shows G-20 countries. Change in HDI ranks is shown in Graph 7.

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) refers to the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime in a region. This is an important indicator that tells us whether the population in a region is growing, declining or remaining stable. Lolipop charts have been used to depict the TFR rates and the Lolipops are coloured based on whether the countries come under the high or low TFR category. When understanding TFR, 2.1 is an important figure as it is referred to as the replacement level of fertility. In other words, at replacement levels of fertility, women are giving birth to enough children to sustain the population of a region. Any TFR at or below that is below replacement level and has been categorised as Low TFR here and any population above the replacement level has been referred to as High TFR.

The global trend is that fertility rates are dropping sharply and this holds true for G-20 countries considered together. TFR rates are negatively correlated with progress and the drop in TFR rates among developing countries can be an indication of improvement in a wide array of indicators. Change in TFR rates is depicted in Graph 3.

Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) refers to the number of registered maternal deaths due to birth or pregnancy related complications per 100,000 registered live births. MMR rates exclude deaths due to accidental causes but do include deaths due to issues related to pregnancy management. The data covers the time period between 2008 and 2015 and horizontal bars are used to depict the rates. A vertical line provides the world average for the respective years. Change in MMR rates is depicted in graph 4.

Mean years of schooling refers to the number of years of education received by people of ages 25 and older during their lifetime. The data is represented as horizontal bars with the world average represented as a vertical bar for the respective years. Change in mean years of schooling is depicted in Graph 5.

Life Expectancy is the average number of years an individual is expected to live at birth.  The data pertains to the period between 2011 and 2015 and is represented by horizontal bars with the world average for the respective years depicted by a vertical bar. Change in Life Expectancy is depicted in Graph 6.

Labour Force Participation Rate is the percentage of working population between the ages of 16 and 64 currently employed or seeking employment. The data pertains to the time period between 2009 and 2015 and captures Male and Female Labour Force participation distinctly. It emerges that pursuant to global trends, male labour force participation in G-20 countries is significantly higher than female participation without exception. The world average for male and female participation is also demarcated.

The overall trend suggests that labour force participation is falling in the G-20 countries and globally. The world average participation dropped by two percentage points for both men and women from 78 to 76% and from 52 to 50% respectively. Change in Labour Force Participation for men and women is shown in Graphs 6 and 7.

While India is making a steady progress on all these indicators, the need is to accelerate. After all, HDI for India is indicative of the development of nearly 18% of the world's population today!

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