IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The HDI 2010: New Controversies, Old Critiques

  • Jeni Klugman


    (Human Development Report Office, UNDP)

  • Francisco Rodríguez


    (Human Development Report Office, UNDP)

  • Hyung-Jin Choi


    (Human Development Report Office, UNDP)

Since its introduction in the first Human Development Report in 1990, the Human Development Index (HDI) has attracted great interest in policy and academic circles, as well as in the media and national audiences around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to the simplicity of its characterization of development - an average of achievements in health, education and income – and to its underlying message that development is much more than economic growth. Yet the HDI’s very simplicity prompted critiques from the start, with some contending that it was too simplistic, while others who accepted its self-imposed limitations still questioned its choice of indicators and its computational methodology. In 2010, for the twentieth anniversary edition, the Human Development Report undertook a comprehensive review of these critiques and introduced several major changes to the HDI. This article is a detailed review of key critiques of the HDI, today and in the past, and explains the recent changes introduced to the HDI formula and indicators.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its series Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) with number HDRP-2011-01.

in new window

Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published as background research for the 2011 Human Development Report.
Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2011-01
Contact details of provider: Postal: 304 E 45th Street, FF-12th Floor, New York, NY, 10017
Phone: +1-212-906-3661
Fax: +1-212-906-5161
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 2000. "The Income Component of Human Development Index," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2000-01, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  2. Miles Cahill, 2005. "Is the Human Development Index Redundant?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 1-5, Winter.
  3. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Good and bad growth: The human development reports," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 631-638, May.
  4. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  5. Dasgupta, Partha & Weale, Martin, 1992. "On measuring the quality of life," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 119-131, January.
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:106:y:1991:i:2:p:407-43 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Herrero Carmen & Martínez Rico Ricardo & Villar Notario Antonio, 2008. "A Multiplicative Human Development Index," Working Papers 201099, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation.
  8. Desai, Meghnad, 1991. "Human development : Concepts and measurement," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(2-3), pages 350-357, April.
  9. Barry P. Bosworth & Susan M. Collins, 2003. "The Empirics of Growth: An Update," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 113-206.
  10. Andrea Brandolini, 2008. "On applying synthetic indices of multidimensional well-being: health and income inequalities in selected EU countries," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 668, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  11. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  12. DECANCK, Koen & DECOSTER, André & SCHOOKAERT, Erik, . "The evolution of world inequality in well-being," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2140, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
  14. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  16. 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.
  17. Johnson, Paul & Durlauf, Steven N & Temple, Johnathan R. W., 2004. "Growth Econometrics," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 61, Vassar College Department of Economics.
    • Durlauf, Steven N. & Johnson, Paul A. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2005. "Growth Econometrics," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 555-677 Elsevier.
  18. Srijit Mishra & Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan & B. Sudhakara Reddy, 2009. "An Alternative Approach to Measure HDI," Working Papers id:2069, eSocialSciences.
  19. P. Palazzi & A. Lauri, 1998. "The Human Development Index: suggested corrections," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 51(205), pages 193-221.
  20. Satya R. Chakravarty, 2003. "A Generalized Human Development Index," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 99-114, February.
  21. Sagar, Ambuj D. & Najam, Adil, 1998. "The human development index: a critical review," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 249-264, June.
  22. Eric Neumayer, 2010. "Human Development and Sustainability," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-05, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  23. Hendrik Wolff & Howard Chong & Maximilian Auffhammer, 2011. "Classification, Detection and Consequences of Data Error: Evidence from the Human Development Index," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(553), pages 843-870, 06.
  24. Sabina Alkire and James Foster, 2010. "Designing the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (HDI)," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp037, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  25. Georges Nguefack-Tsague & Stephan Klasen & Walter Zucchini, 2011. "On Weighting the Components of the Human Development Index: A Statistical Justification," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 183-202.
  26. Suman Seth, 2013. "A class of distribution and association sensitive multidimensional welfare indices," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 133-162, June.
  27. Shoutir Kishore Chatterjee, 2005. "Measurement of Human Development: an alternative approach," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 31-44.
  28. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong Wha, 1996. "International Measures of Schooling Years and Schooling Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 218-23, May.
  29. Carmen Herrero & Ricardo Martínez & Antonio Villar, 2010. "Improving the Measurement of Human Development," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-12, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  30. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  31. Solava Ibrahim & Sabina Alkire, 2007. "Agency and Empowerment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 379-403.
  32. Farhad Noorbakhsh, 1998. "The human development index: some technical issues and alternative indices," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(5), pages 589-605.
  33. Stephan Klasen & Dana Schuler, 2011. "Reforming the Gender-Related Development Index and the Gender Empowerment Measure: Implementing Some Specific Proposals," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 1-30.
  34. Wulf Gaertner & Yongsheng Xu, 2006. "Capability Sets as the Basis of a New Measure of Human Development," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 311-321.
  35. Francisco Rodríguez, 2006. "The Anarchy of Numbers: Understanding the Evidence on Venezuelan Economic Growth," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-009, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  36. James Foster & Luis Lopez-Calva & Miguel Szekely, 2005. "Measuring the Distribution of Human Development: methodology and an application to Mexico," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 5-25.
  37. 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.
  38. Milorad Kovacevic, 2010. "Review of HDI Critiques and Potential Improvements," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-33, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  39. Sudhir Anand & Amartya Sen, 2000. "The Income Component of the Human Development Index," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 83-106.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2011-01. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (HDRO/UNDP)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.