Defining Human Development

Human development

Human development is creating an environment in which people can develop to their full potential and lead productive and creative lives in accord with their needs and interests.  It is about:

  • expanding people’s choices
  • enhancing capabilities (the range of things people can be and do)
  • having access to knowledge, health and a decent standard of living, and
  • participating in the life of their community and decisions affecting their lives.

Human Development Index (HDI)

The HDI is a tool developed by the United Nations to measure and rank countries’ levels of social and economic development.  It provides a single statistic, based on

three dimensions:

  • health
  • education
  • standard of living

and four indicators:

  • life expectancy at birth
  • expected years of schooling
  • mean years of schooling
  • Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.

It intends to give a quantitative measure of a nation’s human development.  While it is a better measure of HD than purely economic indicators, it fails to include other measures which impact HD, such as gender equality, income equality, and respect for human rights and freedoms.