Pushing the frontiers of measurement has always been a cornerstone of the human development approach. But it has never been measurement for the sake of measurement. The HDI has enabled innovative thinking about progress by capturing the simple yet powerful idea that development is about much more than income. Over the years the Human Development Report has introduced new measures to evaluate progress in reducing poverty and empowering women.
The Human Development Report presents analytical tools for policy choice. These tools are amongst the most significant contributions of the Report. They provide user friendly methods for the analysis of human development at the international, regional, national and sub-national levels and the means for assessing trends and gaps in human development.
For policy makers and development practitioners, the analytical tools introduced in the Reports have the advantage of being simple, requiring only basic statistical data and mathematical knowledge. They are readily understandable by non-specialists and facilitate stark findings that attract support for human development and help decision-makers determine priorities and formulate human development-related policies.
In the Reports these tools are generally applied at the international level. Subject to the availability of data, they are also applicable at the national and sub-national levels. The latter include: regional, urban/rural, male/female, age-group, income level, ethnic group, etc. This note briefly presents the analytical tools developed in the Human Development Reports and describes their potential uses in national settings.
The concept of human development focuses on the ends rather than the means of development and progress. The real objective of development should be to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives. Though this may appear to be a simple truth, it is often overlooked as more immediate concerns are given precedence.
Human development denotes both the process of widening people's choices and improving their well-being. The most critical dimensions of human development are: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. Additional concerns include social and political freedoms. The concept distinguishes between two sides of human development. One is the formation of human capabilities, such as improved health or knowledge. The other is the enjoyment of these acquired capabilities, for work or for leisure.
Human development is often being misconstrued and confused with the following concepts and approaches to development.
Thus the concept of human development is a holistic one putting people at the centre of all aspects of the development process.