Maximizing Human Development
The Human Development Index (HDI) is widely used as an aggregate measure of overall human well-being. We examine the allocations implied by the maximization of this index using a standard growth model. Maximization of the HDI leads to consumption (excluding education and health expenditures) being pushed to minimal levels. It also leads to the overaccumulation of education and/or health capital and possibly physical capital, relative to the standard golden rule. We propose an alternative specification of the HDI, where permanent consumption replaces income as the proxy for a decent standard of living. Maximization of this alternative index yields a "human development golden rule" which balances consumption, education and health expenditure in promoting human development. We also advocate the method of optimization subject to constraints for revealing the consequences of taking a policy measure seriously and testing its congruence with its underlying philosophy.
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