Human Development Report

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Human Development Report

The Human Development Report is an editorially autonomous publication commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The United Nations General Assembly has formally recognized the Report as “an independent intellectual exercise” and “an important tool for raising awareness about human development around the world.” The Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries each year. Contributors to the Report include leading development scholars and practitioners, working under the coordination of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office.

“The Human Development Reports have changed the way we see the world. We have learned that while economic growth is very important, what ultimately matters is using national income to give all people a chance at a longer, healthier and more productive life.”- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


The first Human Development Report, commissioned by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and written by a team of experts led by the late Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, who argued that health and education should be given as much weight as income in measuring a country’s development, and that the ultimate goal of development is the expansion of people’s choices and freedoms.

“People are the real wealth of a nation,” Haq wrote in the opening lines of the first report in 1990. “The basic objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives. This may appear to be a simple truth. But it is often forgotten in the immediate concern with the accumulation of commodities and financial wealth.”

Since 1990, more than 140 countries have published some 600 national Human Development Reports, with UNDP support. UNDP has also sponsored scores of regional reports, such as the ten-volume Arab Human Development Report series, which have made internationally recognized contributions to the global dialogue on democracy, women’s rights, inequality, poverty eradication and other critical issues.

The Human Development Report 2013

The 2013 Human Development Report identifies more than 40 developing countries that have done better than expected in human development in recent decades, with their progress accelerating markedly over the past 10 years.

Click here to access the full report.

2011 Human Development Report - Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All

The 2011 Human Development Report argues that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. See here for full article.

2010 Human Development Report

The 2010 Human Development Report—The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development —showed through a detailed new analysis of long-term Human Development Index (HDI) trends that most developing countries made dramatic yet often underestimated progress in health, education and basic living standards in recent decades, with many of the poorest countries posting the greatest gains.

Yet patterns of achievement vary greatly, with some countries losing ground since 1970, the 2010 Human Development Report shows. Introducing three new indices, the 20th anniversary edition of the Report documented wide inequalities within and among countries, deep disparities between women and men on a wide range of development indicators, and the prevalence of extreme multidimensional poverty in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The first Human Development Report introduced its pioneering HDI and analyzed previous decades of development indicators, concluding that “there is no automatic link between economic growth and human progress.” The 2010 Report’s rigorous review of longer-term trends—looking back at HDI indicators for most countries from 1970—showed there is no consistent correlation between national economic performance and achievement in the non-income HDI areas of health and education.

Overall, as shown in the Report’s analysis of all countries for which complete HDI data are available for the past 40 years, life expectancy climbed from 59 years in 1970 to 70 in 2010, school enrolment rose from just 55 percent of all primary and secondary school-age children to 70 percent, and per capita GDP doubled to more than US$10,000. People in all regions shared in this progress, though to varying degrees. Life expectancy, for example, rose by 18 years in the Arab states between 1970 and 2010, compared to eight years in sub-Saharan Africa. The 135 countries studied include 92 percent of the world’s population.

The “Top 10 Movers” highlighted in the 2010 Report—those countries among the 135 that improved most in HDI terms over the past 40 years—were led by Oman, which invested energy earnings over the decades in education and public health.

The other nine “Top Movers” are China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco. Remarkably, China was the only country that made the “Top 10” list due solely to income performance; the main drivers of HDI achievement were in health and education. The next 10 leaders in HDI improvement over the past 40 years include several low-income but high HDI-achieving countries “not typically described as success stories,” the Report notes, among them Ethiopia (#11), Cambodia (#15) and Benin (#18)—all of which made big gains in education and public health.

2010 Human Development Report - new indices

The 2010 Human Development Report continued the HDI tradition of measurement innovation by introducing new indices that address crucial development factors not directly reflected in the HDI:


  • The Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI): The 2010 Report examined HDI data through the lens of inequality, adjusting HDI achievements to reflect disparities in income, health and education.
  • The Gender Inequality Index (GII): The 2010 Report introduced a new measure of gender inequities, including maternal mortality rates and women’s representation in parliaments. The GII calculated national HDI losses from gender inequities, from the Netherlands (the most equal in GII terms) to Yemen (the least).
  • The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): The 2010 Report featured a new multidimensional poverty measure that complements income-based poverty assessments by looking at multiple factors at the household level, from basic living standards to access to schooling, clean water and health care. About 1.7 billion people—fully a third of the population in the 104 countries included in the MPI—are estimated to live in multidimensional poverty, more than the estimated 1.3 billion who live on $1.25 a day or less.

To encourage continuing innovation for the 20th anniversary of the Report, the Human Development Report Office re-launched its website ( with extensive new resources, revised statistical country profiles for all UN member states and interactive tools, including a “build your own index” option for visitors.

Human Development Report 2010 - Media Review a comprehensive list of media coverage on the release of the 2010 Human Development Report.

See also

Further reading

Regional reports