Human Development Trends since 1970: A Social Convergence Story

Gray Molina , George, and Mark Purser (2010). "Human Development Trends since 1970: A Social Convergence Story" United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Reports Research Paper 2010/02 pp. 1-49

This paper uses a unique data set of the Human Development Index to describe long-run human development t rends f or 111 c ountries, f rom 197 0 t o 2005. T he first pa rt of t he p aper s hows trends b y r egion, period and index subcomponent. We f ind that 110 of the 111 c ountries show progress i n t heir H DI l evels ove r a 35 -year p eriod. H DI growth i s fa stest fo r l ow-HDI a nd middle-HDI countries in the pre-1990 period. The life-expectancy and education subcomponents grow faster than income. The assessment of HDI progress is sensitive to choice of measurement. The s econd pa rt of t he pa per f ocuses on t he differences be tween i ncome a nd non -income determinants of hum an de velopment. First, H DI growth c onverges, both a bsolutely and conditionally, when running HDI growth rates on initial levels of HD. Second, we find that the income and non-income components of HDI change have a near-zero correlation. Third, we look at de terminants o f t he non-income c omponents of t he H DI. W e find that i ncome i s not a significant d eterminant of H DI ch ange o nce we i nclude u rbanization, f ertility an d f emale schooling. Fourth, we test the effects of institutions, geography and gender on HDI growth. We find that the most robust predictors of HDI growth are fertility and female schooling. We check this result using years of women’s suffrage as an instrument for changes in gender relations, and find that it is a significant predictor of HDI progress for the whole sample.
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