Human development (economics)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Human development theory)

Human development involves studies of the human condition with its core being the capability approach. The inequality adjusted Human Development Index is used as a way of measuring actual progress in human development by the United Nations. It is an alternative approach to a single focus on economic growth, and focused more on social justice, as a way of understanding progress[clarification needed]

The United Nations Development Programme defines human development as "the process of enlarging people's choices", said choices allowing them to "lead a long and healthy life, to be educated, to enjoy a decent standard of living", as well as "political freedom, other guaranteed human rights and various ingredients of self-respect".[1] Thus, human development is about much more than economic growth, which is only a means of enlarging people's choices.[2]


Human Development has roots in ancient philosophy and early economic theory. Aristotle noted that "Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for something else", and Adam Smith and Karl Marx were concerned with human capabilities. The theory grew in importance in the 1980s with the work of Amartya Sen and his Human Capabilities perspective, which played a role in his receiving the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Notable early active economists who formulated the modern concept of human development theory were Mahbub ul Haq, Üner Kirdar, and Amartya Sen.[3] The Human Development Index developed for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stems from this early research.[4] In 2000, Sen and Sudhir Anand published a notable development of the theory to address issues in sustainability.[5][6]

Martha Nussbaum's publications in the late 1990s and 2000s pushed theorists to pay more attention to the human in the theory, and particularly to human emotion.[7][8] A separate approach stems in part from needs theories of psychology which in part started with Abraham Maslow (1968). Representative of these are the Human-Scale Development approach developed by Manfred Max-Neef in the mid-to-late 1980s which addresses human needs and satisfiers which are more or less static across time and context.[9]

Anthropologists and sociologists have also challenged perspectives on Human Development Theory that stem from neoclassical economics. Examples of scholars include, Diane Elson, Raymond Apthorpe, Irene van Staveren, and Ananta Giri. Elson (1997) proposes that human development should move towards a more diverse approach to individual incentives. This will involve a shift from seeing people as agents in control of their choices selecting from a set of possibilities utilizing human capital as one of many assets. Instead, theorists should see people as having more mutable choices influenced by social structures and changeable capacities and using a humanistic approach to theory including factors relating to an individual's culture, age, gender, and family roles. These extensions express a dynamic approach to the theory, a dynamism that has been advocated by Ul Haq and Sen, in spite of the implicit criticism of those two figures.[10][11]

In an attempt to promote human development, the United Nations supports decennial Earth Summits where UN members discuss a plan of action called Agenda 21 – an agenda to make sure humanity will still be around after the year 2100. Thousands of cities now have a local Agenda 21 and more and more companies and organisations also align their strategic plan with the strategic plan of Agenda21. With the approaching of the year 2000, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was compelled to develop something that existed in the private sector: setting out a long term plan, a mid term plan and a short term planning. This endeavour supports on Agenda21 and was named the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ran from 2000–2015. The United Nations made a commitment to accomplish these goals by 2015 and thus make an attempt to promote human development.[12] As the experience of this exercise was perceived successful, a follow-up program was developed and named as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Measurements of human development[edit]

There are six basic pillars of human development: equity, sustainability, productivity, empowerment, cooperation and security.[13]

  • Equity is the idea of fairness for every person, between men and women; we each have the right to education and health care.
  • Sustainability is the view that we all have the right to earn a living that can sustain our lives and have access to a more even distribution of goods.
  • Productivity states the full participation of people in the process of income generation. This also means that the government needs more efficient social programs for its people.
  • Empowerment is the freedom of the people to influence development and decisions that affect their lives.
  • Cooperation stimulates participation and belonging to communities and groups as a means of mutual enrichment and a source of social meaning.
  • Security offers people development opportunities freely and safely with confidence that they will not disappear suddenly in the future.[14]

Human Development Report[edit]

The Global Human Development Reports (HDR) is an annual publication released by the UNDP's Human Development Report Office and contains the Human Development Index. Within global HDR there are four main indexes: Human Development Index, Gender-related Development Index, Gender Empowerment Measure and the Human Poverty Index.[2] There are not only a global Human Development Reports but there are also regional and national reports. The Regional, National and subnational (for portions of countries) HDRs take various approaches, according to the strategic thinking of the individual authorship groups that craft the individual reports. In the United States, for example, Measure of America has been publishing human development reports since 2008 with a modified index, the human development index American Human Development Index, which measures the same three basic dimensions but uses slightly different indicators to better reflect the U.S. context and to maximize use of available data.[15]

The Human Development Index is a way for people and nations to see the policy flaws of regions and countries. Although the releasing of this information is believed to encourage countries to alter their policies, there is no evidence demonstrating changes nor is there any motivation for countries to do so.[16]

Human Development Index[edit]

HDI trends
  Central and Eastern Europe, and the CIS

The Human Development Index (HDI) is the normalized measure of life expectancy, education and per capita income for countries worldwide. It is an improved standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare and thus human development.[17] Although this index makes an effort to simplify human development, it is much more complex than any index or set of indicators.[18]

The 2007 report showed a small increase in world HDI in comparison with the previous year's report. This rise was fueled by a general improvement in the developing world, especially of the least developed countries group. This marked improvement at the bottom was offset with a decrease in HDI of high income countries.

Human Poverty Index[edit]

To reflect gaps in the Human Development Index, the United Nations came out with the Human Poverty Index (HPI) in 1997[citation needed]. The HPI measures the deficiencies in the three indexes of the human development index: long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. The HPI is meant to provide a broader view of human development and is adapted to developed countries to reveal social exclusion.[17]

Social Progress Index[edit]

The Social Progress Index is published by the non-profit Social Progress Imperative. It combines indicators related to social welfare, equality, personal freedom and sustainability.

Augmented Human Development Index[edit]

Leandro Prados de la Escosura has an alternative dataset for human development, which he calls the Augmented Human Development Index.[19][20][21]

Educational development[edit]

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2015, calls for a new vision to address the environmental, social and economic concerns facing the world today. The Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 4 on education.[22][23] The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is leading SDG 4, covering all aspects of education.[24] Through initiatives, projects, conventions and events, UNESCO addresses issues related to education and shapes its future. The UN agency has established the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention on Higher Education Qualifications and the Futures of Education initiative. In September 2022, the Transformation Education Summit sounded the alarm on the need for global solutions.[25] On this occasion, UNESCO published a report on a "new social contract for education", calling for a "peaceful, just and sustainable" future and underlining the importance of education in profound societal changes.[26]

Since 1909, the percentage of children in the developing world attending school has increased. Before then, a small minority of boys attended school. By the start of the twenty-first century, the majority of children in most regions of the world attended some form of school.[27] By 2016, over 91 percent of children are enrolled in formal primary schooling.[27] However, a learning crisis has emerged across the globe, due to the fact that a large proportion of students enrolled in school are not learning. A World Bank study found that "53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school."[28] While schooling has increased rapidly over the last few decades, learning has not followed suit.

Universal Primary Education was one of the eight international Millennium Development Goals, towards which progress has been made in the past decade, though barriers still remain.[29] Securing charitable funding from prospective donors is one particularly persistent problem. Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have indicated that the main obstacles to funding for education include conflicting donor priorities, an immature aid architecture, and a lack of evidence and advocacy for the issue.[29] Additionally, Transparency International has identified corruption in the education sector as a major stumbling block to achieving Universal Primary Education in Africa.[30] Furthermore, demand in the developing world for improved educational access is not as high as foreigners have expected. Indigenous governments are reluctant to take on the ongoing costs involved. There is also economic pressure from some parents, who prefer their children to earn money in the short term rather than work towards the long-term benefits of education.[citation needed]

A study conducted by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning indicates that stronger capacities in educational planning and management may have an important spill-over effect on the system as a whole.[31] Sustainable capacity development requires complex interventions at the institutional, organizational and individual levels that could be based on some foundational principles:[31]

  • national leadership and ownership should be the touchstone of any intervention;
  • strategies must be context relevant and context specific;
  • plans should employ an integrated set of complementary interventions, though implementation may need to proceed in steps;
  • partners should commit to a long-term investment in capacity development while working towards some short-term achievements;
  • outside intervention should be conditional on an impact assessment of national capacities at various levels;
  • a certain percentage of students should be removed for improvisation of academics (usually practiced in schools, after tenth grade).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United Nations Development Programme (1997). Human Development Report 1997. Human Development Report. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-19-511996-1.
  2. ^ a b "Human Development". Human Development Reports (UNDP). 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2009.
  3. ^ Correa Mautz, Felipe (2020). "The end of the human in the United Nations' human development concept". Revista de Filosofía. 19 (2): 11–29. doi:10.21703/2735-6353.2020.19.02.0001. S2CID 249967967.
  4. ^ Yousif, Bassam. Human development in Iraq: 1950-1990. Routledge, 2013. p4-6
  5. ^ Anand S., Sen A. (2000). "Human development and economic sustainability". World Development. 28 (12): 2029–2049. doi:10.1016/s0305-750x(00)00071-1.
  6. ^ Welzel Christian, Inglehart Ronald, Klikemann Hans Dieter (2003). "The theory of human development: A cross-cultural analysis". European Journal of Political Research. 42 (3): 341–379. doi:10.1111/1475-6765.00086. hdl:2027.42/74505.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Correa Mautz, Felipe (2023). "An aristotelian approach to human development". Aporía: Revista Internacional de Investigaciones Filosóficas. 4 (especial): 102–117. doi:10.7764/aporia.4.64463. S2CID 260179528.
  8. ^ Gasper, Des. Logos, pathos and ehtos in martha C. Nussbaum's capabilities approach to human development. in Comim, Flavio, and Martha C. Nussbaum, eds. Capabilities, Gender, Equality: towards fundamental entitlements. Cambridge University Press, 2014. p97
  9. ^ Cruz Ivonne, Stahel Andri, Max-Neef Manfred (2009). "Towards a systemic development approach: Building on the Human-Scale Development paradigm". Ecological Economics. 68 (7): 2021–2030. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.02.004.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Gasper Des (2002). "Is Sen's capability approach an adequate basis for considering human development?". Review of Political Economy. 14 (4): 435–461. doi:10.1080/0953825022000009898. hdl:1765/50674. S2CID 1981416.
  11. ^ Elson, Diane. "Economic paradigms old and new: The case of human development." In Global Development Fifty Years after Bretton Woods, pp. 50-71. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1997.
  12. ^ "United Nations Millennium Development Goals". 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 19 June 2017.
  13. ^ Nations, United (19 February 2015). "What is Human Development? - Human Development Reports". Archived from the original on 2017-10-27.
  14. ^ "What is Human Development?". UNDP. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  15. ^ "About Human Development — Measure of America: A Program of the Social Science Research Council". Archived from the original on 2018-01-17. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  16. ^ Srinivasan, T.N. (May 1994). "Human Development: A New Paradigm or Reinvention of the Wheel?". Human Development. 84 (2): 238–43.
  17. ^ a b "World Health Organization- Poverty and Development". 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008.
  18. ^ Streeten, Paul (May 1994). "Human Development: Means and Ends". Human Development. 84 (2): 232–37.
  19. ^ Escosura, Leandro Prados de la (2021). "Augmented human development in the age of globalization†". The Economic History Review. 74 (4): 946–975. doi:10.1111/ehr.13064. ISSN 1468-0289.
  20. ^ "Human development - Artículos". Investigación Fundación Rafael del Pino. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  21. ^ Escosura, Leandro Prados de la (2022). Human Development and the Path to Freedom: 1870 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-47734-5.
  22. ^ Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. New York: UN. 2016.
  23. ^ Cracking the code: girls' and women's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Paris: UNESCO. 2017. p. 14. ISBN 978-92-3-100233-5.
  24. ^ "Education transforms lives". UNESCO. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  25. ^ "Transforming Education Summit, September 2022 | SDG4 Education 2030 - Global Education Cooperation Mechanism". Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  26. ^ Unesco (2021). Reimagining our futures together : a new social contract for education. Unesco. Paris. ISBN 978-92-3-100478-0. OCLC 1291877996.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  27. ^ a b "Primary school enrolment". Our World in Data. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  28. ^ "Learning Poverty". World Bank. Archived from the original on 15 July 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  29. ^ a b Liesbet Steer and Geraldine Baudienville 2010. What drives donor financing of basic education? Archived 2 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine London: Overseas Development Institute.
  30. ^ Addis Ababa (23 February 2010). "Poor governance jeopardises primary education in Africa". Transparency International. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  31. ^ a b de Grauwe, A. (2009). Capacity development strategies (Report). Paris: UNESCO-IIPE. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010..

External links[edit]