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Are there critics of the human development index (HDI)?

Modified on: 2018/07/12
A:

The human development index (HDI) assigns numerical values to different countries as a measure of human prosperity. These values are derived using measures of health, education, standard of living and life expectancy. Countries with higher scores on the index are said to be better developed than those with lower scores. The system is designed to be used to help determine strategies for improving living conditions for people around the world. However, some critics argue that these measures are flawed and do not create an accurate picture of prosperity.

HDI assigns weight to certain factors that are more common in developed economies but may not indicate a higher level of success or human happiness. Some critics challenge the inclusion of education in the calculation. High levels of education, while valuable for many pursuits, may not be necessarily be a clear indicator of prosperity. Countries with high per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) and long life spans would not necessarily achieve high HDI index scores if their overall literacy rate and educational attainment were low. The index assigns equal weight to education, health and wealth when these measurements may not always be equally valuable. The HDI assigns a lesser weight to GDP, although a nation's overall production may have a substantial impact on prosperity for many people.

The index is designed to consider other factors besides wealth, allowing a multifaceted examination of global prosperity and emerging market nations. The weaknesses of this measurement lead some critics to challenge its practicality for use in establishing foreign policy. Other factors that influence prosperity may not be sufficiently captured by this measurement.


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