What Do We Know After 15 Years of Using the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index?
Saha, Jean Claude
We examined the relevance of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) over the period 1990–2004. We identified three factors that have influenced HDI throughout this period: Methodological modifications, changes of limit values of variables, and the evolution of living conditions of citizens. The hypothesis for this study was that HDI has not been relevant since 1990 because the evolution of living conditions was the least important factor. We used a Shapley-Owen-Shorrocks (SOS) approach to decompose annual variations of HDI, using the 15 UNDP databases published in the world human development reports since 1990. Our hypothesis was accepted for non-European high HDI countries but was rejected for the large majority of European high HDI and for low and average HDI countries. We formulated recommendations to increase the relevance of this index for all countries.