Human Development Report 1996

Economic Growth and Human Development

The 1996 Report opens with a fundamental statement: "Human development is the end - economic growth a means." The Report argues that economic growth, if not properly managed, can be jobless, voiceless, ruthless, rootless and futureless, and thus detrimental to human development. The quality of growth is therefore as important as its quantity; for poverty reduction, human development and sustainability.

The Report concludes that the links between economic growth and human development must be deliberately forged and regularly fortified by skillful and intelligent policy management. It identifies employment as critical for translating the benefits of economic growth into the lives of people. But for this to happen, new patterns of growth will need to be developed and sustained well into the 21st century-- and new mechanisms must be developed to integrate the weak and the vulnerable into the expanding global economy.

To support economic growth as a means to enrich people's lives, the Report demonstrates why:

  • Over the past 15 years the world has seen spectacular economic advance for some countries - and unprecedented decline for others;
  • Widening disparities in economic performance are creating two worlds - ever more polarized;
  • Everywhere, the structure and quality of growth demand more attention - to contribute to human development, poverty reduction and long-term sustainability;
  • Progress in human development has mostly continued - but too unevenly;
  • New approaches are needed to expand and improve employment opportunities, so that people can participate in growth - and benefit from it; and
  • Economic growth is not sustainable without human development.
Economic Reforms and Growth