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With new and improved data, UNDP’s Human Development Index 2008 shows an upwards trend in human development through 2006, that had been fueled by improvements in economic performance and education for most countries worldwide—The Index includes three more countries this year.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today releases on-line Human Development Indices: A statistical update 2008. For the first time the Human Development Index is released separately from the traditional Human Development Report so as to better explain some major changes in the underlying data. In particular, new estimates of purchasing power parities (PPP) imply substantial adjustments for many countries, resulting in changes in HDI values and, in many cases, HDI ranks.
While the large human development divide between rich and poor countries remains, many countries have witnessed great improvement s in key dimensions. All 80 countries for which data are available for both 1980 and 2006 have registered progress in education. Although several countries in southern Africa still suffer major reversals in the HDI largely due to HIV/AIDS, there are signs of recovery in countries like Botswana and Zambia.
The statistical update also examines inequalities in income and gender within and between countries, and suggests improvements in measuring gender equality and women’s empowerment.
This year’s HDI, which uses 2006 data, has been calculated for 179 countries and territories. Three countries have been added: Liberia, Montenegro and Serbia, while one country, Zimbabwe, has been dropped because of problems with income estimates. Since the data relate to 2006, the impacts of the current economic crisis are not yet reflected.
Almost two decades ago, the first Human Development Report sent a clear message that human development is about enlarging people’s choices, allowing them to develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in dignity and in accordance with their needs and interests. By ranking countries in a way which is more consistent with this thinking, the HDR report has helped shift the debate away from gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as the only measure of development. Instead, the HDI started providing a summary of each country’s achievement in attaining:
Since 1990, The Human Development Report has provided analysis, set the agenda and shifted the course and implementation on development policies worldwide. The 2010 global Human Development Report will mark the twentieth anniversary of the HDR, and will involve a major retrospective about the achievements of the human development approach, and continue to address the development challenges of the 21st century.
The cycle of annual reports will continue – with the 2009 edition focusing on the challenges around migration, both within and beyond borders. That 2009 report will investigate migration in the context of demographic changes and trends in both growth and inequality. It will also present more detailed and nuanced individual, family and village experiences, and explore less visible movements typically pursued by disadvantaged groups such as short term and seasonal migration. These underlying inequalities, which can be compounded by policy distortions, will be a major theme of the 2009 report.
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