Home > Kev's Blog > 11-May-2013 Good news ! Human Development Report

11-May-2013 Good news ! Human Development Report

Saturday 11 May 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have always been a voracious reader. of all things but in particular the news and in particular world news.

Well today in a very rare occasion indeed, I actually read some good news!

Don’t get me wrong, the world is still a big  ‘ole place with lots of bad stuff occurring daily, but lets celebrate some some improvements.

for all the seemingly bad news around the world, we are actually living in a golden age of global development. Today, millions of people around the world are living longer, healthier, freer, safer and more prosperous lives than ever before in human history – and we have the data to prove it.

Earlier this month, to little fanfare, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released its annual Human Development Report (HDR)and the results are both surprising and encouraging. According to the UNDP, over the past decade not some but, in fact, “all countries” have “accelerated their achievements” in education, health, and income. Not a single country for which data was available scored lower on the UNDP’s human development index than they had 12 years earlier.

According to the HDR, these improvements are disproportionately happening in the global south, “home to the vast majority of the world’s people” – most of whom are on the lower end of the income spectrum. Middle-range countries like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey have seen some of the most rapid advances. But significant progress is also occurring in places like Bangladesh, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.

In fact, according to the HDR, the combined economic output of the developing world’s three largest economies (Brazil, China and India) will, by the end of decade, match that of the Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. The good news from the UNDP matches reams of existing data on the extraordinary advances in human progress that have been made in the past two decades.

For example, violent conflicts are on the decline and freedom (in the form of electoral democracies) is on the march. Indeed, inter-state war has largely disappeared from the global system; and when conflicts do occur,they tend to be far less violent.

In addition, there were just under 70 electoral democracies at the end of the cold war. Today, there are 117 (pdf).

But as the HDR makes clear, the advance on public health, poverty reduction and social progress are, in some respects, even more impressive.

Thirty years ago, half the people living in the developing world survived on less than $1.25 a day; today, that proportion is about one-sixth – and the average worldwide income is around $10,000, a significant increase from just a decade ago.

That means more and more people around the world are entering the middle class. In fact, according to the HDR, there will by the end of the decade be approximately 3.25 billion members of the middle class, a dramatic leap from the 1.8 billion of just 4 years ago.

More people around the world can read and write; more go to school, more attend college and more women are getting an education than ever before. The latter point is of critical importance because we know that female education is one of the single most important development tools and actually more critical to child survival than either household income or wealth.

Speaking of child survival, child mortality rate continue to decline thanks to expanded access to healthcare, proper sanitation, and vaccinations. In 1970, the global child mortality rate (deaths of children under five per 1,000) was 141; in 2010, it was 57. From 2000 to 2008 alone, mortality rates among children fell by 17%. And when those kids grow up, they are living longer and healthier lives. Since 1970, the average person is living 11 years longer, to the ripe age of 70. Americans are doing even better, living close to 80 years.

These numbers are the result, in part, of extraordinary advances in public health. Aids-related deaths, while still too high, have dramatically declined. Tuberculosis is finally on the decline; so, too, are mortality rates due to malaria, which have dropped by 25% since 2000.

All of this good news hasn’t happened by accident. As the HDR makes clear (pdf), they are the direct result of governmental policies on economic, trade and public investment, including a particular focus on investments in health and education. To the latter point, one of the more telling findings of the report (pdf) is a side-by-side comparison between South Korea and India in regard to education policies. In South Korea, young women are among the best-educated women in the world, which will result in both a healthier and smaller population (since better-educated women tend to have fewer children). In India, a less broad-based commitment to education means the country’s population will continue to grow, curtailing what should be even higher levels of economic growth and productivity.

In addition, countries that have succeeded the best are ones that have focused on tapping into global markets, maintaining robust trade policies and even enhancing internet usage. In short, success is not the result of “cutting taxes for job creators”, or enacting austerity policies, but rather consistent and deliberate government interventions.

More here from the Guardian.

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