Understanding Performance in Human Development

A Cross-National Study

2010 Occasional Paper
By Gidwitz, Zachary; Heger, Martin Philipp; Pineda, José; Rodriguez, Francisco

This paper introduces a new and comprehensive Human Development Index (HDI) trends dataset for 135 countries and 40 years of annual data. We apply this dataset to answer several empirical questions related to the evolution of human development over the last 40 years. The data reveal overall global improvements, yet significant variability across all regions. While we confirm the existence of continued divergence in per capita income, we find the inverse for HDI. We find no statistically significant correlation between growth and non-income HDI improvements over a forty year period. We also examine some basic correlates that are associated with countries performance in HDI.