Predecessors of HDI

Hirai, Tadashi, and Flavio Comim (2009). "Predecessors of HDI" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

Human Development Index (HDI) has gained prominence as an alternative index to GDP. The fact is worth noting given that the earlier indices created for similar purposes (i.e. predecessors of HDI) ceased to exist. Overall, the HDI has three main strengths: simplicity for universality; inclusion of income indicator for receiving attention from the public; institutionality by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, it seems standstill vis-à-vis the predecessors in terms of the degree of explicit normativeness; selection of variables, weighting and distribution is specifically relevant. To this issue, however, the response by the UNDP seems rather passive despite constant critiques outside. Given the controversial nature, such a normative issue is better to be treated in national and regional level rather than international level. To this extent, the UNDP National and Regional Offices have much potential to make the HDI correspond to the original concept of Human Development / Capabilities.
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