Human Development Report 2019 Focusing on inequality
The life and prospects faced by a newborn in a poor country or in a poor household are radically different from those of wealthier children. In all societies, long-standing forms of inequality persist while gaps are opening in new aspects of life. The 2019 Human Development Report will focus on understanding the dimensions of inequality most important to people’s wellbeing, and what is behind them. The report will go beyond the dominant discourse focused on income disparities to also consider inequalities in other dimensions such as health, education, access to technologies, and exposure to economic and climate-related shocks. It will use new data and methods to highlight how inequality affects people’s lives in a way that measures based on averages cannot; and it will take a long-term view towards 2030 and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and beyond. Read press release and blog by Pedro Conceição, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.
With 15 consultation meetings already confirmed between March and May 2019, in both New York and with partners and regional stakeholders in Geneva, Cairo, Beirut, Rabat, Doha, Santiago, Astana and Paris, the Report will look to provide the broadest analysis of inequality in human development to date. This page will chronicle the preparation process, share reports and news from consultations as well as pre-release some of the report’s content along the way. Stay tuned.
10 April 2019, Beirut, Regional Consultation
The second regional consultation for the 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) was part of the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development, which took place on 10 April 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon. Jointly organized with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, in partnership with United Nations Population Fund, World Health Organization and the Economic Research Forum this regional consultation focused on Rethinking Inequality in Arab States. Over 100 participants attended this special session, including sustainable development experts from Arab countries, government representatives, several regional and international organizations, civil society and academia.
The objectives were to: (i) inform the regional audience about key messages of the joint ESCWA-ERF upcoming report on rethinking multidimensional inequality; (ii) consult with Member States and other stakeholders on the preparation of the 2019 HDR on inequality in human development; and (iii) discuss policy options to reduce inequalities in the region.
The discussion also touched on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, which aims to “reduce inequality between and within countries,” and its linkages with other SDGs, including goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality) and 8 (decent work and economic growth). The question of whether there is a consistent narrative on social (mainly in health and education) and economic inequalities in the Arab region was also addressed as well as the nexus between conflict and inequality.
In terms of the main recommendations for the 2019 HDR, participants advocated for an approach to inequality that incorporates the views of not only economists but experts from other disciplines such as sociology, political science and governance. It was also noted that other aspects such as human rights issues, intergenerational inequality and discrimination should be included. When discussing policy options, it was suggested that the report go beyond fiscal policy and consider social policies to leverage how the demographic dividend could foster more inclusive and sustainable development.
The first of the regional consultations for the 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) took place on 7-8 April 2019 in Cairo, Egypt. Jointly organized with the Economic Research Forum (ERF) - a leading think tank in the region - this Expert Group Meeting (EGM) gathered about 20 academic and policymakers from Dubai, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia, and six experts from the ILO, UNICEF and other UN entities. For two days participants discussed (i) measurement and analytical issues related to inequality in human development, (ii) stakeholder’s perspectives and experiences in this matter, and (iii) policy options for the Arab region.
Structured in six substantive sessions, the EGM’s first session provided an overview of the 2019 HDR. The second session focused on the significance of economic inequality and polarization in the Arab Region with examples from Egypt and Morocco. Two regional experts led the third session on the inequality in education and health with examples from Tunis and Egypt and, in the fourth season, experts briefed on the policies needed to address gender inequality in the region based on the ongoing, comprehensive regional study by UNESCWA and ERF on Rethinking Inequality in the Arab Region. The fifth session focused on the links between inequality and globalization and climate change. The EGM closed with a final session on the policy options needed to tackle inequality and poverty in the region.
This meeting stressed the importance of the next Human Development Report to adopt a broader perspective of inequality, taking into consideration aspects such as inequity, fairness, social justice, and human safety, as well as population dynamics, including growth and decline, and people living in conflict countries or as refugees.
1 April 2019, Geneva, HDRO Consultation with the International Labour Organization (ILO)
The objective of the one-day consultation between HDRO and ILO, with participation of Frances Stewart (director of the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity at University of Oxford), and Paul Ladd (Head of UNRISD), was to share ideas, research and thoughts regarding inequality in general, and on the upcoming Human Development Report 2019 on this topic in particular. In addition to learning from each other and test-driving ongoing work, the meeting was also a space to explore possibilities for potential collaboration.
HDRO presented its work-in-progress for HDR 2019. The overall approach to inequalities is to go beyond income, beyond averages and beyond today. Various drivers of inequalities were discussed, including changes to labor markets, technological change, the shrinking policy space of nation-states, and financialization. Different policies for each situation were mentioned, with the overall message of going beyond redistribution, as there are many entry-points for policies along the process of inequality formation.
ILO colleagues in different presentations described their ongoing work. Topics included the new model for estimating the labor share of income, the anti-distributive nature of labor markets, imbalances within capital income, and the redistributive (as well as secondary) effects of decent work on inequalities. Also mentioned were upcoming ILO publications such as Global Employment Trends for Youth, Digital Platforms and New Business Models, and Inequalities and Cities.
Areas for collaboration
1) Conceptual work – further analyze the counter-distributive nature of unregulated labor markets and the policies needed to correct this
2) Ways in which technology is changing the world of work, with implication for inequality and human development more generally
3) Using the new Labor Share model and micro-data to replicate labor income and productivity analysis from the ILO's Wage Report.
28-29 March 2019, New York, Symposium on Measuring Inequality in the 21st Century
The Human Development Report Office (HDRO) organized a two-day Symposium on Measuring Inequality in the 21st Century in partnership with leading organizations and think-tanks in the field: LIS Cross-National Data Center, the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the City University of New York, UNU-WIDER, and the World Inequality Lab.
For two days, experts from the partner organizations as well as from CEPAL, CEQI, Columbia University, IMF, ILO UN-DESA, New School, OECD, UN-WOMEN, UNDP, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the World Bank, discussed the state of inequality measurement in the world – main gaps, challenges and innovations – and explored a collaborative agenda to refine concepts, data and methodological approaches. Particular attention was given to how to integrate different data sources to overcome problems in the measurement of inequalities in different contexts. Participants also discussed what actions should be promoted among UN Member States, policy makers, academics and global data providers (access agenda here).
At closure of this Symposium, HDRO organized an Open Dialogue on Inequality in the 21st Century led by Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, and Paul Krugman, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and distinguished Professor at Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the City University of New York. The event provided a space to reflect on critical questions that are central in the global inequality debate with key stakeholders – Member States, think thanks, foundations, CSOs, other UN agencies, and media. Watch video below.
9 March 2019, New York, Human Development Statistical Advisory Panel
HDRO’s Statistical Advisory Panel, which meets during the production of every Human Development Report (HDR), brought together prominent members from the statistical community. The Panel is comprised of representatives from National Statistical Offices (NSOs) from Malaysia, Nigeria, Sweden and Tanzania; civil society and academia from the National School of Statistical Science in Brazil, Oxford University, the University of Geneva, and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University; and from the UN and other international organizations including the UN African Centre for Statistics, ILO, UN Environment Programme, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UN Global Pulse and the World Bank.
During the meeting participants addressed many aspects of the statistical production, tackling both the technical elements, as well as communication with data producers and users of human development statistics. The discussion covered the computation of composite indices and other human development indicators, approaches to dealing with missing data, the analysis and visualization of data for the Report, as well as for the on-line presentation and database. Issues related to communication with NSOs and the international statistical community were discussed too. The members of the panel also advised on the use of new data sources, in particular the use of Big Data, to complement or supplement official data for better measuring and understanding of well-being, poverty, inequality and other relevant aspects of human development. Read more