The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






UN Human Development Index

The UN Human Development Index (HDI) measures poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy, and other factors. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. The index was developed in 1990 by the Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, and has been used since 1993 by the United Nations Development Programme in its annual report.

The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development:

  • A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth.
  • Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weight).
  • A decent standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita (PPP USD).

Each year, countries are ranked according to these measures. Those high on the list often brag about it, as a means of attracting talented migrants (economically, individual capital) or discouraging potential emigrants from leaving.

HDI is considered by many to be an excellent tool for measuring development, since both economic and social indicators are covered.


2004 report

Top thirty countries

(Note the similarity between this list and that of developed countries.)

  1. (SAR)

Most of the data used for the 2004 report came from 2001 and 2002. 19 of the bottom 20 countries are in Africa. However, not all UN member states choose to or are able to provide the necessary statistics. Notable absences from the list include Iraq, Somalia, and North Korea.

Bottom ten countries

Top/bottom three countries by continent


Niger (176)
Sierra Leone (177)


Japan Japan (9)
Israel Israel (22)
Hong Kong Hong Kong (SAR) (23)


Norway Norway (1)
Sweden Sweden (2)
Netherlands Netherlands (5)

North America

Canada Canada (4)
United States of America United States (8)
Barbados (29)


Australia Australia (3)
New Zealand New Zealand (18)

South America


Past top countries

The number one ranked country in each year of the index.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04