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Setting weights for aggregate indices: An application to the commitment to development index and human development index

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  • Shyamal Chowdhury
  • Lyn Squire

Abstract

Aggregate indices like UNDP's Human Development Index (HDI) or the Centre for Global Development and Foreign Policy's Commitment to Development Index (CDI) are subject to multiple criticisms. This paper addresses concerns linked to the equal weights used in the HDI and the CDI and evaluates alternative weighting schemes. It relies on an opinion survey conducted electronically among researchers from 60 countries to assess whether or not professional judgment affects the use of equal weights. Results of the opinion survey point to a surprising result for the HDI: despite widespread criticism of equal weights, a simple scheme based on equal weights is not only convenient but also consistent with the views of experts. For some components of the CDI, however, weights derived from the survey do differ from equal weights. Nevertheless, the weights emerging from the survey are not sufficiently different from equal weights to significantly alter country rankings.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 42 (2006)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 761-771

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:42:y:2006:i:5:p:761-771

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  1. Hicks, Norman & Streeten, Paul, 1979. "Indicators of development: The search for a basic needs yardstick," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 567-580, June.
  2. Satya R. Chakravarty, 2003. "A Generalized Human Development Index," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 99-114, February.
  3. Srinivasan, T N, 1994. "Human Development: A New Paradigm or Reinvention of the Wheel?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 238-43, May.
  4. Mark McGillivray & Howard White, 1993. "Measuring development? The UNDP's human development index," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(2), pages 183-192, 03.
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  1. The co-creator of the UNâ??s new Multidimensional Poverty Index defends her new baby
    by Duncan in From Poverty to Power on 2010-07-29 07:13:12
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Cited by:
  1. Sevinc Rende & Murat Donduran, 2013. "Neighborhoods in Development: Human Development Index and Self-organizing Maps," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 721-734, January.
  2. Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, 2010. "Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp038, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  3. Álvarez De Toledo Saavedra, Pablo & Núñez Hernández, Fernando & Usabiaga Ibáñez, Carlos, 2006. "El Diferencial de Desempleo Andaluz: Análisis SVAR de la Curva de Beveridge/Andalusian Unemployment Differential: SVAR Analysis of the Beveridge Curve," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 24, pages 1061-1090, Diciembre.
  4. Lee Stapleton & Guy Garrod, 2007. "Keeping things simple: why the Human Development Index should not diverge from its equal weights assumption," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 179-188, November.
  5. Chris Tofallis, 2013. "An automatic-democratic approach to weight setting for the new human development index," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 1325-1345, October.
  6. Philipp Kolo, 2012. "Measuring a New Aspect of Ethnicity - The Appropriate Diversity Index," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 221, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Stéphane Blancard & Jean-François Hoarau, 2011. "Optimizing the new formulation of the United Nations' human development index: An empirical view from data envelopment analysis," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(1), pages 989-1003.
  8. Koen Decancq & Luc Van Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2013. "What If We Voted on the Weights of a Multidimensional Well‐Being Index? An Illustration with Flemish Data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34, pages 315-332, 09.
  9. Javier Bilbao-Ubillos, 2013. "Another Approach to Measuring Human Development: The Composite Dynamic Human Development Index," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 473-484, April.
  10. Belhadj, Besma, 2012. "New weighting scheme for the dimensions in multidimensional poverty indices," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 304-307.
  11. Iñaki Permanyer, 2010. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Gender Inequality: Continuing the Debate," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 181-198, January.
  12. P. Zhou & B. Ang & D. Zhou, 2010. "Weighting and Aggregation in Composite Indicator Construction: a Multiplicative Optimization Approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(1), pages 169-181, March.
  13. Niels Lind, 2010. "A Calibrated Index of Human Development," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 98(2), pages 301-319, September.
  14. Davies, Antony, 2009. "Human development and the optimal size of government," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 326-330, March.
  15. Maki Michinaka, 2011. "Human Development Rankings Based on the Pareto Dominance: Illustrations Using Cross-country Panel Data 1980-2007," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd11-188, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  16. Michael Jacobsen & Michael Webster & Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, 2013. "The Future of Water in African Cities : Why Waste Water?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11964, October.
  17. Lukas Schrott & Martin Gächter & Engelbert Theurl, 2012. "Regional development in advanced countries: A within-country application of the Human Development Index for Austria," Working Papers 2012-23, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

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