Human development indicators

Development often takes place in an uneven way. A country may have a very high GDP - derived, for example, from the exploitation of rich oil reserves - while segments of the population live in poverty and lack access to basic education, health and decent housing.

Hence the importance of human development indicators, measuring the non-economic aspects of a country's development.

Human development indicators include:

  • Life expectancy - the average age to which a person lives, eg this is 79 in the UK and 48 in Kenya.
  • Infant mortality rate - counts the number of babies, per 1000 live births, who die under the age of one. This is 5 in the UK and 61 in Kenya.
  • Poverty - indices count the percentage of people living below the poverty level, or on very small incomes (eg under £1 per day).
  • Access to basic services - the availability of services necessary for a healthy life, such as clean water and sanitation.
  • Access to healthcare - takes into account statistics such as how many doctors there are for every patient.
  • Risk of disease - calculates the percentage of people with diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
  • Access to education - measures how many people attend primary school, secondary school and higher education.
  • Literacy rate - is the percentage of adults who can read and write. This is 99 per cent in the UK, 85 per cent in Kenya and 60 per cent in India.
  • Access to technology - includes statistics such as the percentage of people with access to phones, mobile phones, television and the internet.
  • Male/female equality - compares statistics such as the literacy rates and employment between the sexes.
  • Government spending priorities - compares health and education expenditure with military expenditure and paying off debts.