Each year the United National Development Program (UNDP) publishes Human Development Index (HDI) scores and ranks for all countries with available data. The 2013 report, which is based on 2012 data, was just published. (Summary HDI 2013 Report: Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World)
The index takes account of three key development indicators:
- Life expectancy at birth,
- Literacy and school enrollment,
- Gross National Income (GNI) per person (on a Purchasing Power Parity basis, which uses the total amount of goods and services produced in an economy, independent of exchange rates).
The HDI theoretically varies from 1.0 for the highest and 0.0 for the lowest. In the 2013 report, Norway is highest with a score of 0.955 while Congo and Niger are tied at rank 186 for lowest with scores of 0.304.
The latest report identifies Mexico along with 17 other countries that have made outstanding progress since 1990. This group of 18 includes none of the traditional industrialized countries. Those at the top of the progress list include South Korea, Chile, Mexico and Malaysia followed by such major countries as Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, China, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh. The HDI scores of all the world’s countries have improved significantly in the last 30 years; but the scores of non-western countries have increased spectacularly over this period.
While HDI scores receive considerable attention, the UNDP’s Inequality-Adjusted HDI or IHDI is a better overall measure because it is far less skewed by the extremely wealthy whose very high incomes push up the GNI per person values but do not adequately represent the development of the society as a whole. For example, the USA ranks third in HDI with a score of 0.937, due in part to the extreme wealth of its highest 1%. On the IHDI scale, the USA scores only 0.821 and ranks 16th.
Mexico’s HDI score is 0.775, but its IHDI score is of 0.593 is much lower because of the great inequality between the rich and poor in Mexico. In terms of IHDI, Mexico ranks 55th. This places Mexico well behind Chile (41st, 0.664), Argentina (43rd, 0.653) and Russia. (2012 data are not available for Russia, but 2011 data places it well ahead of Mexico.) On the other hand, Mexico’s IHDI score is ahead of Peru (62nd, 0.561), Turkey (63rd, 0.560), China (67th, 0.543), Brazil (70th, 0.531), Indonesia (79th, 0.514) and Egypt (0.503). Major countries that seriously trail this group include: India (91st, 0.392), Bangladesh (95th, 0.374), Pakistan (98th, 0.356), Kenya (102nd, 0.344), Nigeria (119th, 0.276) and Ethiopia (121st, 0.269).
The main conclusion is that the overall quality of life continues to improve rapidly in Mexico as well as in many other so-called developing countries. Current trends suggest these improvements will continue in the years ahead. The Congo, ranked 134, is last with a score of 0.172. IHDI scores are not available for many countries because they lack appropriate income distribution data.
- Update on Mexico and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Sep 2011)
- Why Is Mexico in the OECD?
- Education quality: How do Mexican students compare to those in other countries?
- The measurement of poverty: the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)
- Inequality in wealth in Mexico: the GINI index
- Females, males and gender inequality in Mexico