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On weighting the components of the Human Development Index: A statistical justification

Author

Listed:
  • Georges Nguefack-Tsague

    (University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon)

  • Stephan Klasen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Walter Zucchini

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

Abstract

The Human Development Index (HDI) published in the Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations Development Program is calculated as a simple average of the Life Expectancy Index (LEI), the Education Index (EI) and the Gross Domestic Product Index (GDPI). This paper provides statistical support for the use of this seemingly arbitrary equal weighting of the three components by treating human development as a latent concept imperfectly captured by its three component indices. We show that a principal component analysis (PCA) based on the correlation matrix of the components leads to practically the same weights. Specifically we show that, for the period 1975 to 2005, the first principal component accounts for between 78% and 90% of the total variability in the data, and that its coefficients are positive and nearly equal. By normalizing the coefficients, the simple average weighting (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) scheme is obtained. The ranks of countries obtained using the PCA weightings are very similar to those based on the HDI. An advantage of the simple equal weighting is that one can define a simple index to measure the balance of a country\'s development, given its HDI which we show below.

Suggested Citation

  • Georges Nguefack-Tsague & Stephan Klasen & Walter Zucchini, 2010. "On weighting the components of the Human Development Index: A statistical justification," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 37, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:037
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeni Klugman & Francisco Rodríguez & Hyung-Jin Choi, 2011. "The HDI 2010: new controversies, old critiques," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(2), pages 249-288, June.
    2. Koen Decancq & Dirk Neumann, 2014. "Does the Choice of Well-Being Measure Matter Empirically?: An Illustration with German Data," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 717, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Stephen Morse, 2013. "Bottom Rail on Top: The Shifting Sands of Sustainable Development Indicators as Tools to Assess Progress," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(6), pages 1-21, May.
    4. Harttgen, Kenneth & Klasen, Stephan, 2012. "A Household-Based Human Development Index," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 878-899.
    5. David Gustafson & Alona Gutman & Whitney Leet & Adam Drewnowski & Jessica Fanzo & John Ingram, 2016. "Seven Food System Metrics of Sustainable Nutrition Security," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-17, February.
    6. Mariano Luque & Salvador Pérez-Moreno & Beatriz Rodríguez, 2016. "Measuring Human Development: A Multi-criteria Approach," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 713-733, February.
    7. Chris Tofallis, 2013. "An automatic-democratic approach to weight setting for the new human development index," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(4), pages 1325-1345, October.
    8. Suman Seth & Antonio Villar, 2014. "The Measurement of Human Development and Poverty," Working Papers 14.10, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    9. Ludovico Carrino, 2016. "Data Versus Survey-based Normalisation in a Multidimensional Analysis of Social Inclusion," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 2(3), pages 305-345, November.
    10. Giménez, Víctor & Ayvar-Campos, Francisco Javier & Navarro-Chávez, José César Lenin, 2017. "Efficiency in the generation of social welfare in Mexico: A proposal in the presence of bad outputs," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 43-52.
    11. 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.
    12. Atika Pasha, 2015. "Regional Perspectives to the Multidimensional Poverty Index," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 188, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    13. 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, September.
    14. Pasha, Atika, 2017. "Regional Perspectives on the Multidimensional Poverty Index," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 268-285.
    15. Andrea Vigorito, 2011. "Bibliography on the Capability Approach 2010--2011," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 607-612, November.
    16. Ludovico Carrino, 2015. "The weighting role of normalisation in a multidimensional analysis of Social Inclusion," Working Papers 2015:32, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    17. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human Development Index; Human Development Report; United Nations Development Program; principal component analysis; correlation matrix;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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