The Human Development Index (HDI) in 2012 reveals much progress. Over the past decades, countries across the world have been converging towards higher levels of human development. The pace of HDI progress has been fastest in countries in the low and medium human development categories. This is good news. Yet progress requires more than average improvement in the HDI. It will be neither desirable nor sustainable if increases in the HDI are accompanied by rising inequalities in income, unsustainable patterns of consumption, high military spending and low social cohesion.
An essential part of human development is equity. Every person has the right to live a fulfilling life according to his or her own values and aspirations. No one should be doomed to a short life or a miserable one because he or she happens to be from the “wrong” class or country, the “wrong” ethnic group or race or the “wrong” sex. Inequality reduces the pace of human development and in some cases may even prevent it entirely. Globally, there have been much greater reductions in inequality in health and education in the last two decades than in income. Virtually all studies agree that global income inequality is high, though there is no consensus on recent trends.