Human Development Index

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development. These basic dimensions are a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living.

These dimensions are measured by the following indicators:

  1. A long and healthy life is measured by life expectancy at birth.
  2. Knowledge is measured by the adult literacy rate (with two thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one third weight).
  3. A decent standard of living is measured by GDP per capita in purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US Dollars.

The purpose of its construction is not to give a complete picture of human development rather to provide a measure which goes beyond the traditional measurement of development i.e income. Therefore, HDI is a barometer for changes in human well-being and for comparing progress in different regions.

Human development concept is based on the idea of development as a freedom. It is about building human capabilities - the range of things they can do and what they can be. Individual freedoms and rights matter a great deal. But these freedoms and rights are restricted for some because they are poor, ill, illiterate, discriminated against, threatened by violent conflict, or denied a political voice, etc.

That is why in the inaugural issue of Human Development Report - 1990, the authors defined these above mentioned indicators as essential choices and the absence of which can block many other opportunities. Therefore, they defined human development as a process of widening people’s choices as well as raising the level of well-being. To achieve this there is a need for rerientation of our process of development. In other words, development must revolve around the people, not people around the development.

The basic difference between economic development and human development is that economic development entirely focuses on the increase of income whereas the human development believes in expanding and widening of all aspects of human life be it economic, social, political, cultural, etc. In economic aspect human development is one of the essential elements.

The basic idea behind this is that it is the use of income and not the income itself that decides the human choices. Since, the real wealth of a nation is its people, therefore, the goal of development should be the enrichment of human life.

Apart from Human Development Index (HDI), the other four indicators of human development have been selected which were used by the Human Development Report. These are:

  1. Human Poverty Index for developing countries (HPI-1)
  2. Human Poverty Index for selected DECD Countries (HPI-2)
  3. Gender - related Development Index (GDI)
  4. Gender Empowered Measurement (GEM)

Out of these given, HDI, HPI-1 and GDI are calculated by three common dimensions - a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. But some of indicators are different within these dimensions.