2013 Human Development Report to be presented in Mexico City

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Mexico is now ranked at 61 out of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report which is being presented today in Mexico City. In the last report, Mexico came in at number 57. Mexico is still one of the countries with the most HDI growth in the past year (keeping it in the “high human development” group) but the rise of Panama, Kuwait, Russia and Belarus pulled the country down a few pegs on the list.

 

The HDI is calculated using traditional economic indicators such as national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) but also incorporating social welfare indicators, such as life expectancy and average years of schooling. By taking into account statistics related to social development as well as increases in national income, the HDI hopes to provide a more balanced outlook on global development. The “most improved” group since 1990 indicates that when it comes to development rankings, size doesn’t matter. Income growth is still crucial, but increased spending on anti-poverty programs and enthusiastic integration with the global economy through trade contribute to a better score. South Korea leads the pack, but Iran, Tunisia and Qatar are also in the top ten.

The 2013 report’s theme is “The Rise of the South”. It may not be breaking news, but this story is here to stay. “By 2020, according to projections developed for this Report, the combined economic output of three leading developing countries alone—Brazil, China and India—will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.” Yet the report also emphasizes that this growth isn’t just limited to the powerhouse developing economies, but is spread out amongst many smaller ones. In fact, over 40 countries have improved more than their historical performance would have suggested.

While the HDI numbers incorporate data across a wide range of sources – including number of female members of parliament, percentages of people below the poverty line, number of immunized children and even suicide rates – there are of course many factors that are still outside its purview. Mexico has shown steady improvement in the past decade of HDI reports, maintaining its spot in the second tier (“high human development”) but its homicide rate per 100,000 people is still higher than in many countries found in the lower categories of development and 51.3% of the population lives below the national poverty line. The HDI rankings also don’t take into account the long-term political and social consequences of the drug war. The Human Development Report is definitely a useful tool in a broad-strokes analysis of economic and social development, but it’s important to remember it’s still just that: a tool, not a key to understanding.

 

Sources:

Animal Político, México baja en el Índice de Desarrollo Humano de la ONU (Mar 14)

The Economist, Development: Not by bread alone (Mar 16 edition)