Human Development Report 1999
TEN YEARS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
When I was arguing that helping a
to become a two-meal family, enabling a woman
without a change of clothing
to afford to buy a second piece of clothing, is a
I was ridiculed. That is no development, I was
Development is growth of the economy, they said;
growth will bring everything.
We carried out our work as if we were engaged in
some very undesirable activities.
When UNDPs Human Development Report came out
we felt vindicated.
We were no longer back-street operators, we felt we
were in the mainstream.
Thanks, Human Development Report.
PROFESSOR MUHAMMAD YUNUS, FOUNDER, GRAMEEN BANK,
In 1990 the time had come for a broad approach to improving human well-being that would
cover all aspects of human life, for all people, in both high-income and developing
countries, both now and in the future. It went far beyond narrowly defined economic
development to cover the full flourishing of all human choices. It emphasized the need to
put peopletheir needs, their aspirations and their capabilitiesat the center
of the development effort. And the need to assert the unacceptability of any biases or
discrimination, whether by class, gender, race, nationality, religion, community or
generation. Human development had arrived.
The first Human Development Report of UNDP,
published in 1990 under the inspiration and leadership of its architect, Mahbub ul Haq,
came after a period of crisis and retrenchment, in which concern for people had given way
to concern for balancing budgets and payments. It met a felt need and was widely welcomed.
Since then it has caused considerable academic discussion in journals and seminars. It has
caught the world's imagination, stimulating criticisms and debate, ingenious elaborations,
Human development is the process of enlarging
people's choicesnot just choices among different detergents, television channels or
car models but the choices that are created by expanding human capabilities and
functioningswhat people do and can do in their lives. At all levels of development a
few capabilities are essential for human development, without which many choices in life
would not be available. These capabilities are to lead long and healthy lives, to be
knowledgeable and to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of
livingand these are reflected in the human development index. But many additional
choices are valued by people. These include political, social, economic and
cultural freedom, a sense of community, opportunities for being creative and productive,
and self-respect and human rights. Yet human development is more than just achieving these
capabilities; it is also the process of pursuing them in a way that is equitable,
participatory, productive and sustainable.
Choices will change over time and can, in
principle, be infinite. Yet infinite choices without limits and constraints can become
pointless and mindless. Choices have to be combined with allegiances, rights with duties,
options with bonds, liberties with ligatures. Today we see a reaction against the extreme
individualism of the free market approach towards what has come to be called
communitarianism. The exact combination of individual and public action, of personal
agency and social institutions, will vary from time to time and from problem to problem.
Institutional arrangements will be more important for achieving environmental
sustainability, personal agency more important when it comes to the choice of household
articles or marriage partners. But some complementarity will always be necessary.
Getting income is one of the options people
would like to have. It is important but not an all-important option. Human development
includes the expansion of income and wealth, but it includes many other valued and
valuable things as well.
For example, in investigating the priorities of
poor people, one discovers that what matters most to them often differs from what
outsiders assume. More income is only one of the things poor people desire. Adequate
nutrition, safe water at hand, better medical services, more and better schooling for
their children, cheap transport, adequate shelter, continuing employment and secure
livelihoods and productive, remunerating, satisfying jobs do not show up in higher income
per head, at least not for some time.
There are other non-material benefits that are
often more highly valued by poor people than material improvements. Some of these partake
in the characteristics of rights, others in those of states of mind. Among these are good
and safe working conditions, freedom to choose jobs and livelihoods, freedom of movement
and speech, liberation from oppression, violence and exploitation, security from
persecution and arbitrary arrest, a satisfying family life, the assertion of cultural and
religious values, adequate leisure time and satisfying forms of its use, a sense of
purpose in life and work, the opportunity to join and actively
participate in the activities of civil society and a sense of belonging to a community.
These are often more highly valued than income, both in their own right and as a means to
satisfying and productive work. They do not show up in higher income figures. No
policy-maker can guarantee the achievement of all, or even the majority, of these
aspirations, but policies can create the opportunities for their fulfilment.
Human Development Reports have had a significant impact worldwide.
Up until the publication of these Reports, discussions on development centred on
economic growth, using variables such as per capita income growth. Of course these
economic variables also generate some social benefits. But this view of development had
been quite limited. While a country could perfectly well be considered highly developed,
income might be concentrated in the hands of a few, and poverty worsening
as President of Brazil, until today the country is plagued by a lot of
problemsincome concentration, poverty, and so on. If we do not adopt a
development model that responds to the needs of the majority, this development will not be
long-lasting. FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO, PRESIDENT, BRAZIL
This years Report marks the tenth anniversary of the Human Development Report.
Each year since being launched in 1990, the Report has focused on different themes and
introduced new concepts and approaches. But the central concern has always been people as
the purpose of development, and their empowerment as participants in the development
process. The Report puts economic growth into perspective: it is a meansa very
important oneto serve human ends, but it is not an end in itself.
ACCOUNTING FOR THE FIRST 10 YEARS
How has human development changed since the Report was first published in 1990? A
balance sheet of human development in 199097 shows tremendous progressbut also
enduring deprivations and new setbacks.
POLICY PROPOSALS OVER THE YEARS
Each year the Human Development Report has made strong policy recommendations, for both
national and international action. The proposals, some emphasizing suggestions by others,
some putting forward new approaches, have drawn both criticism and praise. But most
important, they have helped to open policy debates to wider possibilities.
Global proposals have been aimed at contributing to a new paradigm of sustainable human
developmentbased on a new concept of human security, a new partnership of developed
and developing countries, new forms of international cooperation and a new global compact.
THE 20:20 INITIATIVE (1992). With
the aim of turning both domestic and external priorities to basic human concerns, this
initiative proposed that every developing country allocate 20% of its domestic budget, and
every donor 20% of its official development assistance (ODA), to ensuring basic health
care, basic education, access to safe water and basic sanitation, and basic family
planning packages for all couples.
GLOBAL HUMAN SECURITY FUND (1994). This
fund would tackle drug trafficking, international terrorism, communicable diseases,
nuclear proliferation, natural disasters, ethnic conflicts, excessive international
migration and global environmental pollution and degradation. The fund of $250 billion a
year would be financed with $14 billion from a proportion of the peace dividend (20% of
the amount saved by industrial countries and 10% of that saved by developing countries
through a 3% reduction in global military spending); $150 billion from a 0.05% tax on
speculative international capital movements; $66 billion from a global energy tax ($1 per
barrel of oil or its equivalent in coal consumption) and $20 billion from a one-third
share of ODA.
A NEW GLOBAL ARCHITECTURE (1994). A
globalizing world needs new institutions to deal with problems that nations alone cannot
- An economic security councilto review the threats to human security.
- A world central bankto take on global macroeconomic management and supervision of
- An international investment trustto recycle international surpluses to developing
- A world antimonopoly authorityto monitor the activities of multinational
corporations and ensure that markets are competitive.
A TIMETABLE TO ELIMINATE LEGAL GENDER
DISCRIMINATION (1995). As of December 1998, 163 countries had ratified the 1979
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but
othersincluding the United Stateshad not. Women's rights are human rights.
There should be a timetable for recognizing legal equality between women and men
everywhere, say by 2005, using CEDAW as the framework.
issues raised by this Report [Human Development Report 1995] are of central importance to
all of us
. In country after country women have demonstrated that when given the
tools of opportunityeducation, healthcare, access to credit, political participation
and legal rightsthey can lift themselves out of poverty, and as women realize their
potential, they lift their families, communities and nations as well
. This Report
not only provides a graphic portrait of the problems facing todays women, but also
opens up the opportunity for a serious dialogue about possible solutions. It challenges
governments, communities and individuals to enter
into this conversation in a common effort to overcome shared problems.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY, THE UNITED STATES
National proposals have focused on the centrality of people in development, on the need
for a new partnership between the state and the market and on new forms of alliance
between governments, institutions of civil society, communities and people.
RESTRUCTURING SOCIAL EXPENDITURES (1991).
Resources should be reallocated to basic human priority concerns through an analysis of a
countrys total expenditure, social expenditure and human priority spending ratios.
The key is to move away from military spending towards social spendingand to shift
the focus to primary human concerns: better education, health services and safe water
accessible to poor people.
A CRITICAL THRESHOLD OF 30% FOR WOMENS
REPRESENTATION (1995). Women must have a critical 30% representation in all
decision-making processeseconomic, political and socialnationally and locally.
Reaching this threshold is essential to enable women to influence decisions that affect
their lives. And to achieve gender equality, social norms and practices must be changed,
and womens access to social services, productive resources and all other
opportunities made equal to mens.
PRO-POOR GROWTH (1996). The quality of
economic growth is as important as its quantity. For human development, growth should be
job-creating rather than jobless, poverty-reducing rather than ruthless, participatory
rather than voiceless, culturally entrenched rather than rootless and environment-friendly
rather than futureless. A growth strategy that aims for a more equitable distribution of
assets, that is job-creating and labour-intensive, and that is decentralized can achieve
AGENDA FOR POVERTY ERADICATION (1997).
Peoples empowerment is the key to poverty elimination and at the centre of a
- Empower individuals, households and communities to gain greater control over their lives
- Strengthen gender equality to empower women.
- Accelerate pro-poor growth in low-income countries.
- Improve the management of globalization.
- Ensure an active state committed to eradicating poverty.
- Take special actions for special situations to support progress in the poorest and
The Human Development Report has become an important instrument of policy
and the concept of the human development index a fundamental tool in formulation of
policy by government
. Growth and advancement must be measured by the extent to which
it impacts positively on people, but the starting point must be human development. We need
to focus particularly on the sectors of society that are the most disadvantaged
women, youth, children, the elderly and the disabled. THABO
MBEKI, DEPUTY PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AS A NATIONAL TOOL
The human development approach has tremendous potential for analysing situations and
policies at the national level. Two Human Development Centres have been
establishedthe first in Islamabad, Pakistan, and the second in Guanajuanto, Mexico.
More than 260 national and subnational human development reports have been produced over
the years by 120 countries, in addition to nine regional reports. In each country these
serve to bring together the facts, influence national policy and mobilize action. They
have introduced the human development concept into national policy dialoguenot only
through human development indicators and policy recommendations, but also through the
country-led process of consultation, data collection and report writing.
SOUTH AFRICAUNDERSTANDING THE FULL COSTS OF
South Africa has one of the fastest-spreading HIV epidemics in the world. The
countrys 1998 human development report provided startling information on how this
will affect human development. Many of the advances achieved during the short life of the
new democracy will be reversed if the epidemic goes unchecked. Developing and drafting the
report brought critical gaps in information to light. The economic costs alone, in lost
labour and sick days, are far greater than initially realized. The report has prompted
plans for further study of the full costsdirect and indirectof the epidemic to
the government, to communities and to households.
INDIASTATE REPORTS INFLUENCING POLICY
Many of Indias 25 states rival medium-size countries in size, population and
diversity. National-level aggregation would hide these important regional disparities.
UNDP India has therefore supported the preparation of human development reports by state
governments. The government of Madhya Pradesh was the first to prepare a state report, in
1995, which helped bring human development into political discourse and planning. Its
second report, in 1998, reflects the influence the first report had on planning. Social
services now account for more than 42% of plan investment, compared with 19% in the
previous plan budget. This success bodes well for other states, such as Gujarat, Karnataka
and Rajasthan, preparing their first human development reports in 1999.
KUWAITINTRODUCING THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Kuwaits first human development report, in 1997, raised awareness of the human
development concept and its relevance to the countrys struggle to shift from
dependence on oil towards a knowledge-based economy. The reports production and
promotion helped advance new thinking in academia, research institutions and the
government. The Ministry of Planning has started to incorporate the human development
approach in its indicators for strategic planning and to monitor human development. The
Arab Planning Institute has revised its curriculum to reflect the human development
concept. And after the success of the first report, the Ministry of Planning is following
up with a second, fully funded by the government.
GUATEMALAALERTING THE COUNTRY TO THE NEED FOR
Guatemalas first human development report, in 1998, overcame data limitations to
spotlight socio-economic disparities across regions, with a strong emphasis on statistics.
Seen as the most complete document on Guatemalan society after the civil war, the report
has become a crucial source of information for NGOs, universities and the international
community. And it has led Guatemalas government and civil society to recognize that
the national system of statistics urgently needs strengtheningnot only to support
technical studies, but also to inform citizens as a requirement for democracy.
LATVIA AND LITHUANIANETWORKING ON HUMAN
Latvia and Lithuania have published national human development reports every year since
1995. The reports have covered the social effects of transition, human settlements, social
cohesion and poverty. Starting out by encouraging national debate on development
challenges, the reports have now inspired a cross-border academic network. Scholars from
three universities in each country are jointly developing a course curriculum to provide a
multidisciplinary overview of human development and its relevance to Latvia and
Lithuania. The reports will be part of the course curriculum.
CAMBODIAHIGHLIGHTING GENDER DISCRIMINATION
Published annually since 1997, Cambodias human development reports
have provided a unique overview of human development in a country where scarcity of
reliable statistical data has been a major obstacle in developing sustainable social and
economic policies. The 1998 report drew public attention to the persistent discrimination
against women in access to education and health care. This message was reinforced by a
television documentary and four short spots on women in different occupations, broadcast
by all five national television stations. The reports have received an enthusiastic
response, and several NGOs and provincial government units are using them to train field
staff and community workers. Encouraged by this reception, UNDP and the Cambodian
government recently began transferring ownership of the report fully into Cambodian hands.
The initiative, with the participation of many NGOs, seeks to strengthen local
capacity in compiling and analysing data on human development.
_________________________________________________________________________ We, the
people of the Earth, are one large family. The new epoch offers new challenges
and new global problems, such as environmental catastrophes, exhaustion of resources,
bloody conflicts and poverty. Every time I see children begging in the street, my heart
is brokenit is our challenge and our shame that we are still unable to help those
who are vulnerablechildren in the first place. Whatever are the problems or
perspectives for the futurethe human dimension is what should be applied as the
measure of all events, towards the implications of every political decision to be made.
That is why the idea of human development promoted by UNDP is so important for us. I would
like to thank UNDP for bringing to life both the important concept of human development,
and these Reports. EDUARD SHEVARDNADZE, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA
ASSESSING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The human development index (HDI), which the Human Development Report has made into
something of a flagship, has been rather successful in serving as an alternative measure
of development, supplementing GNP. Based as it is on three distinct
componentsindicators of longevity, education and income per headit is not
exclusively focused on economic opulence (as GNP is). Within the limits of these three
components, the HDI has served to broaden substantially the empirical attention that the
assessment of development processes receives.
However, the HDI, which is inescapably a crude
index, must not be seen as anything other than an introductory move in getting people
interested in the rich collection of information that is present in the Human Development
Report. Indeed, I must admit I did not initially see much merit in the HDI itself, which,
as it happens, I was privileged to help devise. At first I had expressed to Mahbub ul Haq,
the originator of the Human Development Report, considerable scepticism about trying to
focus on a crude index of this kind, attempting to catch in one simple number a complex
reality about human development and deprivation. In contrast to the coarse index of the
HDI, the rest of the Human Development Report contains an extensive collection of tables,
a wealth of information on a variety of
social, economic and political features that influence the nature and quality of human
life. Why give prominence, it was natural to ask, to a crude summary index that could not
begin to capture much of the rich information that makes the Human Development Report so
engaging and important?
This crudeness had not escaped Mahbub at all.
He did not resist the argument that the HDI could not be but a very limited indicator of
development. But after some initial hesitation, Mahbub persuaded himself that the
dominance of GNP (an overused and oversold index that he wanted to supplant) would not be
broken by any set of tables. People would look at them respectfully, he argued, but when
it came to using a summary measure of development, they would still go back to the
unadorned GNP, because it was crude but convenient. As I listened to Mahbub, I heard an
echo of T. S. Eliots poem Burnt Norton: Human kind/Cannot bear
very much reality.
We need a measure, Mahbub demanded,
of the same level of vulgarity as GNPjust one numberbut a measure that
is not as blind to social aspects of human lives as GNP is. Mahbub hoped that not
only would the HDI be something of an improvement onor at least a helpful supplement
toGNP, but also that it would serve to broaden public interest in the other
variables that are plentifully analysed in the Human Development Report.
Mahbub got this exactly right, I have to admit,
and I am very glad that we did not manage to deflect him from seeking a crude measure. By
skilful use of the attracting power of the HDI, Mahbub got readers to take an involved
interest in the large class of systematic tables and detailed critical analyses presented
in the Human Development Report. The crude index spoke loud and clear and received
intelligent attention and through that vehicle the complex reality contained in the rest
of the Report also found an interested audience.
AMARTYA SEN, 1998 NOBEL LAUREATE IN ECONOMICS