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Improving Human Development: A Long‐Run View

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  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura

Abstract

The pessimistic flavour of the Human Development Reports appears to be in contradiction with their own numbers as developing countries fare comparatively better in human development than in per capita GDP terms. This paper attempts to bridge this gap by providing a new, ‘improved’ human development index (IHDI), informed by welfare economics. The IHDI is presented here alongside the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) HDI for the world and its main regions since the late 19th century. Social dimensions in the IHDI are derived, following Kakwani (Journal of Development Economics 41 (1993), pp. 307–336), with a convex achievement function, whereas a geometric average is employed to combine its dimensions (longevity, knowledge and income). Thus, the IHDI does not conceal the gap between rich and poor countries and casts a much less optimistic view than the conventional UNDP index, while it fits with the UNDP concern for international differences. The paper's findings highlight main weaknesses in human development dimensions of present‐day developing countries.

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  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2010. "Improving Human Development: A Long‐Run View," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 841-894, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:24:y:2010:i:5:p:841-894
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6419.2010.00639.x
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    1. Sostenibilidad del desarrollo: hacia una contabilidad histórica del ahorro genuino
      by juanhmex in Pasado y Presente de la Economia Mundial on 2013-02-27 16:19:04

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    3. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2011. "The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 19, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Rebecca Williams & Les Oxley, 2016. "The Geography of Inventiveness in the Primary Sector: Some Initial Results for New Zealand, 1880–1895," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(2), pages 151-173, July.
    5. Emanuele Felice & Michelangelo Vasta, 2015. "Passive modernization? The new human development index and its components in Italy's regions (1871–2007)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 44-66.
    6. Emanuele Felice, 2014. "GDP and convergence in modern times," Working Papers 01-14, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    7. Nicola Amendola & Giacomo Gabbuti & Giovanni Vecchi, 2021. "On Some Problems of Using the Human Development Index in Economic History," LEM Papers Series 2021/42, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Emanuele Felice, 2016. "The Misty Grail: The Search for a Comprehensive Measure of Development and the Reasons for GDP Primacy," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 47(5), pages 967-994, September.
    9. Luis Bertola & Laura Gatti, 2021. "New historical estimates of the human development index," Documentos de trabajo 66, Programa de Historia Económica, FCS, Udelar.
    10. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2015. "World Human Development: 1870–2007," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(2), pages 220-247, June.
    11. Panagiotis Ravanos & Giannis Karagiannis, 2021. "A VEA Benefit-of-the-Doubt Model for the HDI," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 155(1), pages 27-46, May.
    12. Nicola Amendola & Giacomo Gabbuti & Giovanni Vecchi, 2018. "On the use of composite indices in economic history. Lessons from Italy, 1861-2017," HHB Working Papers Series 11, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    13. Emanuele Felice, 2012. "Neither dashboard nor 'mashup' indices: an empirical wealth approach as a pathway to a comprehensive measure of development," UHE Working papers 2012_01, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
    14. Sevinc Rende & Murat Donduran, 2013. "Neighborhoods in Development: Human Development Index and Self-organizing Maps," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 721-734, January.

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    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

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