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Inequality in Human Development: An empirical assessment of thirty-two countries

One of the most frequent critiques of the HDI is that it does not take into account inequality within countries in its three dimensions. We use a simple approach, which allows to compute the three components and the overall HDI for quintiles of the income distribution. This allows to compare the level in human development of the poor with the level of the non-poor within countries, but also across countries. This is an application of the method presented in Grimm et al. (2008) to a sample of 21 low and middle income countries and 11 industrialized countries. Our results show that inequality in human development within countries is high both in developed and industrialized countries. In fact, the HDI of the lowest quintiles in industrialized countries is often below the HDI of the richest quintile in many middle income countries. We also find, however, a strong overall negative correlation between the level of human development and inequality in human development.

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Paper provided by Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research in its series Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers with number 178.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 17 Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:got:iaidps:178
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  1. Michael Grimm, Kenneth Harttgen, Stephan Klasen, and Mark Misselhorn, 2006. "A Human Development Index by Income Groups," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2006-07, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  2. Klasen, Stephan, 2008. "Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction: Measurement Issues using Income and Non-Income Indicators," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 420-445, March.
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