Human Development Index

Appearance move to sidebar hide

World mapWorld map of countries and territories by HDI scores in increments of 0.050 (based on 2022 data, published in 2024)

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education (mean years of schooling completed and expected years of schooling upon entering the education system), and per capita income indicators, which is used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. A country scores a higher level of HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the gross national income GNI (PPP) per capita is higher. It was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul-Haq and was further used to measure a country's development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Report Office.

The 2010 Human Development Report introduced an Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). While the simple HDI remains useful, it stated that "the IHDI is the actual level of human development (accounting for this inequality), while the HDI can be viewed as an index of "potential" human development (or the maximum level of HDI) that could be achieved if there was no inequality."

The index is based on the human development approach, developed by Mahbub ul-Haq, anchored in Amartya Sen's work on human capabilities, and often framed in terms of whether people are able to "be" and "do" desirable things in life. Examples include — being: well fed, sheltered, and healthy; doing: work, education, voting, participating in community life. The freedom of choice is considered central — someone choosing to be hungry (e.g. when fasting for religious reasons) is considered different from someone who is hungry because they cannot afford to buy food, or because the country is going through a famine.

The index does not take into account several factors, such as the net wealth per capita or the relative quality of goods in a country. This situation tends to lower the ranking of some of the most developed countries, such as the G7 members and others.


The origins of the HDI are found in the annual Human Development Reports produced by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These annual reports were devised and launched by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul-Haq in 1990, and had the explicit purpose "to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people-centered policies". He believed that a simple composite measure of human development was needed to convince the public, academics and politicians that they can, and should, evaluate development not only by economic advances but also improvements in human well-being.

The underlying principle behind the Human Development Index

Dimensions and calculation

New method (2010 HDI onwards)

HDI trends between 1990 and 2021
  World   OECD countries Developing countries:   Arab States   East Asia and the Pacific   Europe and Central Asia   Latin America and the Caribbean   South Asia   Sub-Saharan Africa

Published on 4 November 2010 (and updated on 10 June 2011), the 2010 Human Development Report calculated the HDI combining three dimensions:

In its 2010 Human Development Report, the UNDP began using a new method of calculating the HDI. The following three indices are used:

1. Life Expectancy Index (LEI) = LE − 20 85 − 20 {\displaystyle ={\frac {{\textrm {LE}}-20}{85-20}}} = LE − 20 65 {\displaystyle ={\frac {{\textrm {LE}}-20}{65}}}

LEI is equal to 1 when life expectancy at birth is 85 years, and 0 when life expectancy at birth is 20 years.

2. Education Index (EI) = MYSI + EYSI 2 {\displaystyle ={\frac {{\textrm {MYSI}}+{\textrm {EYSI}}}{2}}}

2.1 Mean Years of Schooling Index (MYSI) = MYS 15 {\displaystyle ={\frac {\textrm {MYS}}{15}}} Fifteen is the projected maximum of this indicator for 2025. 2.2 Expected Years of Schooling Index (EYSI) = EYS 18 {\displaystyle ={\frac {\textrm {EYS}}{18}}} Eighteen is equivalent to achieving a master's degree in most countries.

3. Income Index (II) = ln ⁡ ( GNIpc ) − ln ⁡ ( 100 ) ln ⁡ ( 75 , 000 ) − ln ⁡ ( 100 ) {\displaystyle ={\frac {\ln({\textrm {GNIpc}})-\ln(100)}{\ln(75,000)-\ln(100)}}} = ln ⁡ ( GNIpc ) − ln ⁡ ( 100 ) ln ⁡ ( 750 ) {\displaystyle ={\frac {\ln({\textrm {GNIpc}})-\ln(100)}{\ln(750)}}}

II is 1 when GNI per capita is $75,000 and 0 when GNI per capita is $100.

Finally, the HDI is the geometric mean of the previous three normalized indices:

HDI = LEI ⋅ EI ⋅ II 3 . {\displaystyle {\textrm {HDI}}={\sqrt{{\textrm {LEI}}\cdot {\textrm {EI}}\cdot {\textrm {II}}}}.}

LE: Life expectancy at birth
MYS: Mean years of schooling (i.e. years that a person aged 25 or older has spent in formal education)
EYS: Expected years of schooling (i.e. total expected years of schooling for children under 18 years of age, incl. young men and women aged 13–17)
GNIpc: Gross national income at purchasing power parity per capita

Old method (HDI before 2010)

The HDI combined three dimensions last used in its 2009 report:

HDI trends between 1975 and 2004
  OECD   Europe (not in the OECD), and CIS   Latin America and the Caribbean   East Asia   Arab League   South Asia   Sub-Saharan Africa

This methodology was used by the UNDP until their 2011 report.

The formula defining the HDI is promulgated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In general, to transform a raw variable, say x {\displaystyle x} , into a unit-free index between 0 and 1 (which allows different indices to be added together), the following formula is used:

where a {\displaystyle a} and b {\displaystyle b} are the lowest and highest values the variable x {\displaystyle x} can attain, respectively.

The Human Development Index (HDI) then represents the uniformly weighted sum with 1⁄3 contributed by each of the following factor indices:

2022 Human Development Index (2024 report)

World mapAverage annual HDI growth from 2010 to 2021 (published in 2022)

The Human Development Report 2023/24 by the United Nations Development Programme was released on 13 March 2024; the report calculates HDI values based on data collected in 2022.

Ranked from 1 to 69 in the year 2022, the following countries are considered to be of "very high human development":

Table of countries by HDI
Rank Nation HDI
2022 data (2024 report)​ Change since 2015​ 2022 data (2024 report)​ Average annual growth (2010–2022)​
1 Steady   Switzerland 0.967 Increase 0.24%
2 Decrease (1)  Norway 0.966 Increase 0.25%
3 Steady  Iceland 0.959 Increase 0.28%
4 Increase (2)  Hong Kong 0.956 Increase 0.38%
5 Increase (1)  Denmark 0.952 Increase 0.35%
Steady  Sweden Increase 0.38%
7 Increase (8)  Ireland 0.950 Increase 0.38%
Decrease (3)  Germany Increase 0.19%
9 Decrease (1)  Singapore 0.949 Increase 0.25%
10 Increase (1)  Netherlands 0.946 Increase 0.26%
Decrease (1)  Australia Increase 0.20%
12 Increase (2)  Liechtenstein 0.942 Increase 0.23%
Increase (3)  Belgium Increase 0.26%
Steady  Finland Increase 0.27%
15 Increase (3)  United Kingdom 0.940 Increase 0.24%
16 Decrease (7)  New Zealand 0.939 Increase 0.13%
17 Increase (19)  United Arab Emirates 0.937 Increase 1.04%
18 Decrease (5)  Canada 0.935 Increase 0.22%
19 Increase (3)  South Korea 0.929 Increase 0.36%
20 Decrease (5)  United States 0.927 Increase 0.10%
Decrease (1)  Luxembourg Increase 0.14%
22 Increase (1)  Slovenia 0.926 Increase 0.33%
Decrease (1)  Austria Increase 0.21%
24 Decrease (4)  Japan 0.920 Increase 0.16%
25 Decrease (1)  Israel 0.915 Increase 0.26%
Increase (3)  Malta Increase 0.50%
27 Steady  Spain 0.911 Increase 0.40%
28 Decrease (3)  France 0.910 Increase 0.28%
29 Increase (3)  Cyprus 0.907 Increase 0.45%
30 Steady  Italy 0.906 Increase 0.24%
31 Decrease (2)  Estonia 0.899 Increase 0.33%
32 Decrease (6)  Czechia 0.895 Increase 0.22%
33 Decrease (3)  Greece 0.893 Increase 0.18%
34 Increase (3)  Bahrain 0.888 Increase 0.80%
35 Increase (3)  Andorra 0.884 Increase 0.20%
36 Decrease (2)  Poland 0.881 Increase 0.35%
37 Increase (2)  Latvia 0.879 Increase 0.51%
Decrease (2)  Lithuania Increase 0.32%
39 Increase (6)  Croatia 0.878 Increase 0.53%
40 Steady  Qatar 0.875 Increase 0.45%
Increase (6)  Saudi Arabia Increase 0.70%
42 Steady  Portugal 0.874 Increase 0.42%
43 Decrease (10)  San Marino 0.867 Decrease 0.32%
44 Steady  Chile 0.860 Increase 0.47%
45 Increase (9)  Turkey 0.855 Increase 1.10%
Decrease (5)  Slovakia Increase 0.14%
47 Steady  Hungary 0.851 Increase 0.22%
48 Decrease (6)  Argentina 0.849 Increase 0.15%
49 Steady  Kuwait 0.847 Increase 0.36%
50 Increase (1)  Montenegro 0.844 Increase 0.38%
51 Decrease (2)  Saint Kitts and Nevis 0.838 Increase 0.49%
52 Increase (8)  Uruguay 0.830 Increase 0.47%
53 Increase (3)  Romania 0.827 Increase 0.14%
54 Increase (1)  Antigua and Barbuda 0.826 Increase 0.18%
55 Decrease (7)  Brunei 0.823 Decrease 0.02%
56 Decrease (3)  Russia 0.821 Increase 0.25%
57 Increase (3)  Bahamas 0.820 Increase 0.21%
Increase (5)  Panama Increase 0.47%
59 Decrease (7)  Oman 0.819 Increase 0.22%
60 Decrease (3)  Trinidad and Tobago 0.814 Increase 0.30%
Increase (4)  Georgia Increase 0.54%
62 Increase (2)  Barbados 0.809 Increase 0.18%
63 Increase (6)  Malaysia 0.807 Increase 0.41%
64 Increase (5)  Costa Rica 0.806 Increase 0.39%
65 Increase (3)  Serbia 0.805 Increase 0.39%
66 Increase (6)  Thailand 0.803 Increase 0.65%
67 Decrease (1)  Seychelles 0.802 Increase 0.30%
Decrease (4)  Kazakhstan Increase 0.38%
69 Decrease (11)  Belarus 0.801 Increase 0.12%

The list below displays the top-ranked country from each year of the Human Development Index. Norway has been ranked the highest sixteen times, Canada eight times, and Switzerland, Japan, and Iceland have each ranked twice.

In each original HDI

The year represents the time period from which the statistics for the index were derived. In parentheses is the year when the report was published.

Geographical coverage

The HDI has extended its geographical coverage: David Hastings, of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, published a report geographically extending the HDI to 230+ economies, whereas the UNDP HDI for 2009 enumerates 182 economies and coverage for the 2010 HDI dropped to 169 countries.

Country/region specific HDI lists


HDI in relation to consumption-based CO2 emissions per capita

The Human Development Index has been criticized on a number of grounds, including alleged lack of consideration of technological development or contributions to human civilization, focusing exclusively on national performance and ranking, lack of attention to development from a global perspective, measurement error of the underlying statistics, and on the UNDP's changes in formula which can lead to severe misclassification of "low", "medium", "high" or "very high" human development countries.

There have also been various criticism towards the lack of consideration regarding sustainability (which later got addressed by the planetary pressures-adjusted HDI), and towards social inequality (which got addressed by the inequality-adjusted HDI)

Sources of data error

Economists Hendrik Wolff, Howard Chong and Maximilian Auffhammer discuss the HDI from the perspective of data error in the underlying health, education and income statistics used to construct the HDI. They have identified three sources of data error which are: (i) data updating, (ii) formula revisions and (iii) thresholds to classify a country's development status. They conclude that 11%, 21% and 34% of all countries can be interpreted as currently misclassified in the development bins due to the three sources of data error, respectively. Wolff, Chong and Auffhammer suggest that the United Nations should discontinue the practice of classifying countries into development bins because the cut-off values seem arbitrary, and the classifications can provide incentives for strategic behavior in reporting official statistics, as well as having the potential to misguide politicians, investors, charity donors and the public who use the HDI at large.

In 2010, the UNDP reacted to the criticism by updating the thresholds to classify nations as low, medium, and high human development countries. In a comment to The Economist in early January 2011, the Human Development Report Office responded to an article published in the magazine on 6 January 2011 which discusses the Wolff et al. paper. The Human Development Report Office states that they undertook a systematic revision of the methods used for the calculation of the HDI, and that the new methodology directly addresses the critique by Wolff et al. in that it generates a system for continuously updating the human-development categories whenever formula or data revisions take place.

In 2013, Salvatore Monni and Alessandro Spaventa emphasized that in the debate of GDP versus HDI, it is often forgotten that these are both external indicators that prioritize different benchmarks upon which the quantification of societal welfare can be predicated. The larger question is whether it is possible to shift the focus of policy from a battle between competing paradigms to a mechanism for eliciting information on well-being directly from the population.

See also




  1. ^ A. Stanton, Elizabeth (February 2007). "The Human Development Index: A History". PERI Working Papers. ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst: 14–15. Archived from the original on 28 February 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Human Development Index". Definition of 'Human Development Index'. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  3. ^ "About Human Development". HDR. UNDP. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Human development index". World Health Organization. Archived from the original on 3 January 2022. Retrieved 26 June 2024.
  5. ^ "Composite indices — HDI and beyond". Human Development Reports. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b "What is Human Development". HDR. UNDP. 19 February 2015. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017. ... human development approach, developed by the economist Mahbub Ul Haq ...
  7. ^ The Courier. Commission of the European Communities. 1994.
  8. ^ Nations, United (4 November 2010). "Human Development Report 2010". UNDP. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Technical notes" (PDF). UNDP. 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 June 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  10. ^ "New method of calculation of Human Development Index (HDI)". India Study Channel. 1 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  11. ^ Mean years of schooling (of adults) (years) is a calculation of the average number of years of education received by people ages 25 and older in their lifetime based on education attainment levels of the population converted into years of schooling based on theoretical duration of each level of education attended. Source: Barro, R. J.; Lee, J.-W. (2010). "A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World, 1950–2010". NBER Working Paper No. 15902. Working Paper Series. doi:10.3386/w15902. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  12. ^ (ESYI is a calculation of the number of years a child is expected to attend school, or university, including the years spent on repetition. It is the sum of the age-specific enrollment ratios for primary, secondary, post-secondary non-tertiary and tertiary education and is calculated assuming the prevailing patterns of age-specific enrollment rates were to stay the same throughout the child's life. Expected years of schooling is capped at 18 years. (Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2010). Correspondence on education indicators. March. Montreal.)
  13. ^ "Definition, Calculator, etc. at UNDP site". Archived from the original on 20 December 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  14. ^ a b Human Development Report 2023-24: Breaking the gridlock: Reimagining cooperation in a polarized world. United Nations Development Programme. 13 March 2024. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  15. ^ Hastings, David A. (2009). "Filling Gaps in the Human Development Index". United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Working Paper WP/09/02. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  16. ^ Hastings, David A. (2011). "A "Classic" Human Development Index with 232 Countries". Archived from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011. Information Note linked to data
  17. ^ a b Wolff, Hendrik; Chong, Howard; Auffhammer, Maximilian (2011). "Classification, Detection and Consequences of Data Error: Evidence from the Human Development Index". Economic Journal. 121 (553): 843–870. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02408.x. hdl:1813/71597. S2CID 18069132. Archived from the original on 8 August 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  18. ^ WWF, WWF. "Living Planet Report 2014" (PDF). Living Planet Report. 2014: 60–62.
  19. ^ Harttgen, Kenneth; Klasen, Stephan (1 May 2012). "A Household-Based Human Development Index". World Development. 40 (5): 878–899. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.09.011. hdl:10419/37505. ISSN 0305-750X.
  20. ^ "UNDP Human Development Report Office's comments". The Economist. January 2011. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  21. ^ "The Economist (pages 60–61 in the issue of Jan 8, 2011)". 6 January 2011. Archived from the original on 13 January 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  22. ^ Monni, Salvatore; Spaventa, Alessandro (2013). "Beyond Gdp and HDI: Shifting the focus from Paradigms to Politics". Development. 56 (2): 227–231. doi:10.1057/dev.2013.30. S2CID 84722678.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Human Development Index.