MEASURING HUMAN WELL- BEING : A POSSIBLE NEW APPROACH

Mazumdar, Krishna (2016). 'MEASURING HUMAN WELL- BEING : A POSSIBLE NEW APPROACH' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.


abstract
MEASURING HUMAN WELL- BEING : A POSSIBLE NEW APPROACH
KRISHNA MAZUMDAR
FORMER PROFESSOR, INDIAN STATISTICAL INSTITUTE
ABSTRACT
Historically, well-being of a nation was measured in terms of per capita gross domestic product (PCGDP) or per capita national product (PCNP), more precisely, in terms of income. But the experience of the world development during the 1950’s and 1960’s, when a large number of third world countries achieved the overall growth targets of the United Nation, but the level of living of the masses of people remained for the most part unchanged. This signaled that something was very wrong with this definition of human well-being. In 1990 the UNDP introduced a new measure of human well-being : Human Development Index (HDI) to compare the levels of livings of the people, living in different countries of the world. The HDI considered array of human needs to measure the human well-being of nations.  In 1990, HDI was introduced as simple average of standardized value of three indicators : life expectancy at birth (in years), adult literacy rate (percentage of total literate adult population of a country in a given time) and logarithm of per capita gross domestic product measured in purchasing power parity dollar. HDI was initiated on the basis of Sen.’s idea of functioning’s and capabilities. Later, UNDP modified HDI. in terms of methodology and indicators.  During the last quarter century, HDI has become the most successful multidimensional index for measuring a country’s level of human well-being. It also appears to be the most useful measure for comparing the level of human well-being of a number of countries.  The HDI has been criticized from various points of views. As a consequence, a number of alternative versions have been proposed by different researchers all over the world. The present study is another attempt to measure a nation’s level of human well-being over a period of time and compare levels of human well-being of a number of nations at a point of time or over a time period. Human well-being is not dependent only on three aspects of human life. Moreover, development has some negative aspects, such as environmental degradation etc, which if not properly controlled, has great impact on human health, atmosphere etc. This study incorporates environment as an indicator. HDI is an unweighted average of selected indicators. But relative importance of an indicator is more than the relative importance of other indicators for measuring development of a country. Moreover, most of the indicators representing development of a country or a number of countries are correlated. As a consequence, improvement of one indicator requires improvement of other. This study, basically, differs from other similar studies in these two aspects: (i) the present study incorporates new dimensions/of human lives, including some negative developments, (such as environmental degradation) (ii) this study attempts to form a weighted index, the weights being based on the correlation coefficients of the chosen indicators. Ranking of the countries on the basis of the proposed composite index differ from the ranking of the countries on the basis of the HDI or any other same kind of indices. Application of such a method of formulation of a composite index enables one to identify relative importance of the chosen indicators.
Key words : Measurement, Correlation matrix, human well-being
 

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