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Greening the United Nations' Human Development Index?

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  • Stephen Morse

    (University of Reading, UK)

Abstract

The Human Development Index (HDI) introduced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990 has helped facilitate widespread debate amongst development researchers, practitioners and policy makers. The HDI is an aggregate index, calculated on an annual basis by the UNDP and published in its Human Development Reports, comprising measures of three components deemed by them to be central to development: (i) income (the gross domestic product per capita), (ii) education (adult literacy rate) and (iii) health (life expectancy at birth). The results of calculating the HDI are typically presented as country|regional league tables, and provide a quick means for policy makers and others to judge performance. Perhaps partly because of the relative simplicity of the index, the HDI has managed to achieve a level of acceptance and use amongst politicians and policy makers that has yet to emerge with any indicator of sustainability. Indeed, despite its existence for 11 years, including nine years after the Rio Earth Summit, the HDI has not even been modified to take on board wider issues of sustainability. This paper will critically examine the potential for 'greening' the HDI so as to include environmental and resource-consumption dimensions. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Morse, 2003. "Greening the United Nations' Human Development Index?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 183-198.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:11:y:2003:i:4:p:183-198
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.219
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.219
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacques Loup, David Naudet and Développement et insertion internationale (DIAL), 2000. "The State of Human Development Data and Statistical Capacity Building in Developing Countries," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2000-11, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    2. Bartelmus, Peter, 1999. "Sustainable development: Paradigm or paranoia?," Wuppertal Papers 93, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
    3. Spangenberg, Joachim H. & Bonniot, Odile, 1998. "Sustainability indicators: A compass on the road towards sustainability," Wuppertal Papers 81, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
    4. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 1994. "Sustainable Human Development: Concepts and Priorities," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1994-03, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    5. Neumayer, Eric, 2001. "The human development index and sustainability -- a constructive proposal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 101-114, October.
    6. M. Qizilbash, 2001. "Sustainable Development: Concepts and Rankings," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 134-161.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blancard, Stéphane & Hoarau, Jean-François, 2013. "A new sustainable human development indicator for small island developing states: A reappraisal from data envelopment analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 623-635.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:1078-:d:102194 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Wolff, Hendrik & Chong, Howard & Auffhammer, Maximilian, 2008. "Consequences of Data Error in Aggregate Indicators: Evidence from the Human Development Index," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt18s0z7mj, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    4. Hezri, Adnan A. & Dovers, Stephen R., 2006. "Sustainability indicators, policy and governance: Issues for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 86-99, November.
    5. repec:eee:deveco:v:132:y:2018:i:c:p:130-149 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Pineda, Jose, 2012. "Sustainability and human development: a proposal for a sustainability adjusted HDI (SHDI)," MPRA Paper 39656, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Francesco Busato & Norma Maccari, 2016. "The Environmental Human Development Index," RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA', FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(2), pages 31-44.
    8. Liu, Xinyu & Liu, Gengyuan & Yang, Zhifeng & Chen, Bin & Ulgiati, Sergio, 2016. "Comparing national environmental and economic performances through emergy sustainability indicators: Moving environmental ethics beyond anthropocentrism toward ecocentrism," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1532-1542.
    9. Wolff, Hendrik & Chong, Howard & Auffhammer, Maximilian, 2009. "Human Development Index: Are Developing Countries Misclassified? (former title: "Consequences of Data Error in Aggregate Indicators: Evidence from the Human Development Index)," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49763, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Qiu, Qihua & Sung, Jaesang & Davis, Will & Tchernis, Rusty, 2018. "Using spatial factor analysis to measure human development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 130-149.

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