4 November 2010 – The majority of developing countries have made dramatic but underestimated gains in health and education in recent decades, despite the fact that severe inequalities within and between countries remain, according to the United Nations flagship report on comprehensive human development, which was released today.
The Human Development Report, released annually by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), assesses the state of human development on the basis of health, education and income indicators, as an alternative to purely macroeconomic assessments of national progress.
In this 20th edition, the report reviews trends over the past four decades and concludes that people today are generally healthier, wealthier and better educated than they were in 1970.
Human development is different from economic growth, and substantial achievements are possible even without fast growth.
These advances are not directly linked with national economic growth, showing that impressive long-term gains can and have been made even without consistent economic performance, according to the report.
“Our results confirm… two central contentions of the Human Development Report from the outset,” said the report’s lead author, Jeni Klugman. “Human development is different from economic growth, and substantial achievements are possible even without fast growth.”
Globally, life expectancy has risen from 59 years in 1970 to 70 in 2010, the report states. Primary and secondary school enrolment has risen from 55 per cent to 70 per cent in the same period. While all regions shared in this progress, there were wide variations in scope; for example, life expectancy rose by 18 years in the Arab world but 8 years in sub-Saharan Africa.
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