Visualizing 25 Years of Human Development

Human Development Reports have been pioneers in measuring and visualizing human progress. This section displays some influential graphs and visualization that have contributed to advance new ideas.

Contrary to commonly held beliefs, the 2009 Human Development Report revealed that most migrants do not cross national borders, but instead move within their own country. 740 million people were internal migrants, almost 4 times the number of international migrants according to 2007 data.

For the first time, the 2010 Report examined Human Development Index (HDI) data through the lens of inequality, adjusting HDI achievements to reflect disparities in income, health and education. The HDI alone, as a composite of national averages, was hiding disparities within countries, so these adjustments for inequality provided a fuller picture of people’s well-being.

The 2010 Report was the first to rigorously review longer-term human development trends—looking back at Human Development Index (HDI) indicators for most countries from 1970. By doing so the Report revealed new insights about the countries that performed best, and the varying patterns of progress.

The 2010 Report was the first to rigorously review longer-term human development trends—looking back at Human Development Index (HDI) indicators for most countries from 1970. Developing countries had made a dramatic progress in health, education and basic living standards in those three decades, with many of the poorest countries posting the greatest gains.

The 2011 Report publication forecasted that unchecked environmental deterioration - from drought in sub-Saharan Africa to rising sea levels that could swamp low-lying countries like Bangladesh - could cause food prices to soar by up to 50 percent and reverse efforts to expand water, sanitation and energy access to billions of people, notably in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2011 Human Development Report estimated that by 2050, in an “environmental challenge” scenario factoring in the effects of global warming on food production and pollution, the average HDI would be 12 percent lower in regions like South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than would otherwise be the case.

The 2011 Report identified ways to jointly advance sustainability and equity. This graph illustrates the policy synergies and trade-offs between these two goals. Pursuing sustainability and equity jointly does not require that they be mutually reinforcing. Some policies may advance one objective but set back the other.

The 2013 Human Development Report foresaw an increase of the Human Development Index (HDI) in all regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by 2050 as seen on the graph.

The 2013 Reported argued that the raising South faces long-term challenges shared by industrialized countries of the North, including an aging population, environmental pressures, social inequalities, and the need for meaningful civic engagement or mismatches between educational preparation and job opportunities.

For a Human Development prospective, investing in people’s capabilities -through health, education and other public services—is not an appendage of the growth process but an integral part of it. The 2013 Human Development Report advocates for enhancement of public investment to influence the effective delivery of public services and expansion of capabilities.