The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic (index) that measures key dimensions of human development:
– a long and healthy life (here is the Our World in Data entry on Life Expectancy)
– and have a decent standard of living (here is the Our World in Data entry on GDP Growth).
The economic historian Leandro Prados de la Escosura calculated the HDI over the course of 2 centuries. This data is shown below to give a long run perspective on human development.
Human development across world regions, 1870-2007 – Prados de la Escosura (2014)1Full screen view Download Data
The HDI is published by the United Nations Development Programme and this data is shown in the time-series chart below. Add other countries to see the change over time.
The HDI data published by the United Nations Development Programme is shown in this map – move the slider below the chart to see the change over time.
Human Development Index by world region, 1980-20132Full screen view Download Data Download as static image
The following graph shows that there is strong convergence between countries of the world. Those countries that had the lowest HDI in 1980 experienced generally the largest improvements over the following 33 years! This is not only due to some components of the HDI having an upper bound (like literacy rate); there has also been convergence in aspects that have no upper bound like income (Our World in Data entry on the World Income Distribution) and life expectancy (Our World in Data entry on Life Expectancy).
Convergence of the Human Development Index: HDI in 1980 vs average annual growth rate, 1980 and 20133Full screen view Download Data
Number of countries per HDI category, 1990, 2000 and 2012 – Human Development Report 20134
The measure is explained here by the United Nations Development Programme.
United Nations Development Programme
- Data: The United Nations Development Programme is the institution that publishes the Human Development Index.
- Geographical coverage: Globally - by country, world region, and HDI level
- Time span: From 1980 onwards
- Available at: United Nations Development Programme data page