Human Development Report (HDR) – 2014

What is HDR?

The Human Development Report (HDR) published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is an annual report which measures of human development across the globe.

How is human development measured?

Human development is measured in terms of 5 indices:

  1. Human Development Index
  2. Inequality adjusted Human Development Index
  3. Gender Inequality Index
  4. Gender Development index
  5. Multi-dimensional Poverty Index


Explanation of each Index:

Human Development Index

Calculated in terms of 3 parameters:

  1. To live a long and healthy life (Life expectancy at birth)
  2. To be educated and knowledgeable (Mean years of schooling + Expected years of schooling)
  3. To enjoy a decent standard of living (Per capita Gross National Income, Purchasing Power Parity adjusted)

HDI = 3ƒ (Life expectancy × Education × GNI)

HDI of some countries:

Very High Ranking countries (≥ 0.800)

High Ranking countries (≥ 0.700)

Medium Ranking countries (> 0.550)

Low Ranking countries

1. Norway

2. Australia

47. Croatia

49. Argentina

57. Russia

73. Sri Lanka

79. Brazil

83. Ukraine

91. China

107. Palestine

118. South Africa

135. India

136. Bhutan

142. Bangladesh

146. Pakistan

169. Afghanistan

186. Congo

187. Niger


2014 vs 2013- A comparison for India:

Parameters (India)

2013 data

2012 data

Global (2013)





HDI Ranking




Life expectancy at birth


65.8 years

70.8 years

Mean years of schooling

4.4 years


7.7 years

GNI per capita $




Points to note:

  • India’s ranking has improved by 1.
  • All other BRICS countries fare better than India
  • Neighbours like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as well as a war-torn state like Palestine fare better than India.
  • A total of 187 countries have been ranked.
  • Some countries have not been included In HDI report 2014- Somalia, North Korea are among them

Related Terms explained:

Life expectancy at birth: Number of years a newborn infant could expect to live if prevailing patterns of age- specific mortality rates at the time of birth stay the same throughout the infant’s life.

Mean years of schooling: Average number of years of education received by people ages 25 and older, converted from education attainment levels using official durations of each level.

Expected years of schooling: Number of years of schooling that a child of school entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrolment rates persist throughout the child’s life.

Gross national income (GNI) per capita: Aggregate income of an economy generated by its production and its ownership of factors of production, less the incomes paid for the use of factors of production owned by the rest of the world, converted to international dollars using PPP rates, divided by midyear population


Inequality adjusted HDI

HDI value adjusted for inequalities in the three basic dimensions of human development

India’s rankingSame rank, but HDI value is 0.418 (% difference over HDI=28.6)

Gini coefficient for India = 33.9

Related Terms explained:

Quintile ratio: Ratio of the average income of the richest 20% of the population to the average income of the poorest 20% of the population.

Palma ratio: Ratio of the richest 10% of the population’s share of gross national income (GNI) divided by the poorest 40%’s share. Middle class incomes almost always account for about half of GNI and that the other half is split between the richest 10% and poorest 40%, though their shares vary considerably across countries.

Gini coefficient: Measure of the deviation of the distribution of income among individuals or households within a country from a perfectly equal distribution. A value of 0 represents absolute equality, a value of 100 absolute inequality.


Gender Development Index

A composite measure reflecting disparity in human development achievements between women and men in three dimensions—health, education and living standards

GDI = Female HDI ∶ Male HDI


Ranks of some countries:

  1. Slovakia (GDI= 00)
  2. Argentina
  3. India (GDI= 0.828)
  4. Afghanistan (lowest rank) 

Points to note:

  • It is distribution sensitive. Distribution sensitive means that the GDI takes into account not only the average or general level of well-being and wealth within a given country, but focuses also on how this wealth and well-being is distributed between different groups within society.
  • The GDI cannot be used independently from the Human Development Index (HDI) score and so, it cannot be used on its own as an indicator of gender-gaps.
  • Introduced this year for the first time.
  • BRICS ranking-  Russia > Brazil > China > South Africa > India
  • While the overall gender gap is an 8% deficit for women, the income gap is shockingly high — per capita income for men is more than double that for women.
  • There are 16 countries where the female HDI is ≥ male HDI (includes Russian federation, Uruguay, Ukraine)


Gender Inequality Index

A composite measure reflecting inequality in achievement between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market.

Range = 0-1 [0= zero inequality; 1=100% inequality]


Ranks of some countries:

1. Slovenia (0.021)

2. Switzerland

127. India

127. Pakistan


Related Terms explained:

Maternal mortality ratio: Number of deaths due to pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births.

Adolescent birth rate: Number of births to women ages 15–19 per 1,000 women ages 15–19.

Labour force participation rate: Proportion of a country’s working-age population (ages 15 and older) that engages in the labour market, either by working or actively looking for work, expressed as a percentage of the working-age population.

Points to be noted:

  • China > Russia > Brazil > South Africa
  • In the 2010 Human Development Report, another alternative to the Gender-related Development Index (GDI), namely, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) was proposed in order to address some of the shortcomings of the GDI.


Multidimensional Poverty Index

Percentage of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations.

MPI was developed in 2010 by Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative and the UNDP. It uses different factors to determine poverty beyond income-based lists. It replaced the previous Human Poverty Index.


The index uses the same 3 dimensions as the HDI: health, education, and standard of living. These are measured using ten indicators.




1. Child Mortality

2. Nutrition


3. Years of school

4. Children enrolled

Living Standards

5. Cooking fuel

6. Toilet

7. Water

8. Electricity

9. Floor

10. Assets

MPI = H × A

H: Percentage of people who are MPI poor (incidence of poverty) A: Average intensity of MPI poverty across the poor (%)
A: Average intensity of MPI poverty across the poor (%)


% population living in multidimensional poverty








Points to be noted:

  • Overall 2.2 billion people are either near or living in multi-dimensional poverty (suffering deprivations in 33% of weighted indicators).
  • MPI is calculated for only 104 countries
  • Both HDI and MPI has been criticized by economist such as Ratan Lal Basu for lack of "Moral/Emotional/Spiritual Dimensions" of poverty. The same has been captured by "Global Happiness Index" in which a country like Bhutan (which has dismal performance on other indicators) has been ranked 1.


Slowdown in human development- Though human development levels continue to rise across the world, the rate of this growth has slowed and the spread has been very uneven. It is a result of the lingering global economic crisis that has caused a dip in income growth in Europe, Arab countries, and Central Asia.

HDI parameters- Life expectancy at birth has increased due to lower IMR and child mortality, fewer deaths due to HIV/AIDS and better nutrition. Education levels have risen on stronger investments and political commitment. Multidimensional poverty has been considerably reduced, though wide variation across countries and regions remains.

Nearly 80% of the global population lack social protection, while 12% (842 million people) suffer from chronic hunger – and nearly half of all workers across the world are in informal or precarious employment.

Inequality has declined in health access, remained constant in education but increased by two percentage points with respect to income.

Vulnerability - “Vulnerability is not the same as poverty. It means not lack or want but defencelessness, insecurity and exposure to risks, shocks and stress.” —Robert Chambers

Resilience - At its core, resilience is about ensuring that state, community and global institutions work to empower and protect people.

The Report considers the way in which vulnerabilities change during our lives—by taking a ‘life cycle approach’. Unlike more static models, this analysis suggests that children, adolescents and the elderly each face different sets of risks which require targeted responses. Some periods of life are identified as particularly important: for example, the first 1,000 days of a child’s life or the transition from school to work or from work to retirement. Setbacks at these points can be particularly difficult to overcome and may have prolonged impacts.

Although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur. The report notes that threats such as financial crises, fluctuations in food prices, natural disasters and violent conflict significantly impede progress.The report advocates for the universal provision of basic social services to enhance resilience. It refutes the notion that only wealthy countries can afford to do this. Countries such as Republic of Korea, and developing countries such as Costa Rica started putting in place measures of social insurance when their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was lower than India’s and Pakistan’s now.

  • Responsive and accountable institutions of governance are critical to overcoming the sense of injustice, vulnerability and exclusion that can fuel social discontent.
  • The report calls for “an international consensus on universal social protection” to be included in the post-2015 development goals agenda. The idea that everyone has the universal right to education and healthcare!
  • The report urges a three-fold policy path to get the world out of the morass it is stuck in: universal provision of social services, stronger social protection and a return to 100% employment policies. All these would require a strong and active role of the state.

With respect to India:

  • India has worked towards disaster management is reflected when cyclone Phailin struck in Oct 2013 and advanced evacuation was possible. Thus reducing vulnerability due to natural disasters.
  • In 2013, India witnessed a historic transition from the famine conditions of 1943 to a legal commitment to provide, at a very low cost, the minimum essential calories to over 75 percent of the population from home grown food.
  • India’s MGNREGA is a promising employment initiative. A rarely heard criticism of the NREGA is that the easy availability of work may discourage workers from moving to more-productive sectors of the economy, thus harming longer term growth prospects.
  • Improving accountability through transparency measures such as India’s Right to Information Act can expose corruption and graft and boost efficiency.
  • Persistent vulnerability is rooted in historic exclusions—women in patriarchal societies, Dalits in India encounter discrimination and exclusion.
  • India’s failure to transition from primary to industry has to be remedied—jobs in business process outsourcing are a boon for the balance of payments but hardly for mass employment.
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