Monitoring Desk: As many as 2.2 billion people are poor or near-poor, indicates 2014 Human Development Report on vulnerability and resilience.
Entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, the Report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.
According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, the latest estimates of the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index reveal that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall,almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur.
The Report holds that as crises spread ever faster and further, it is critical to understand vulnerability in order to secure gains and sustain progress.
The 2014 Human Development Report calls for a commitment to full employment as a policy goal, the universal provision of basic social services, strengthened social protection, and better global coordination in shoring up resilience to vulnerabilities that are increasingly global in origin and impact. This report comes at a critical time for global development, as attention turns to the creation of a new post-2015 development agenda.
It points to a slowdown in human development growth across all regions, as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). It notes that threats such as financial crises, fluctuations in food prices, natural disasters and violent conflict significantly impede progress.
It explores structural vulnerabilities – those that have persisted and compounded over time as a result of discrimination and institutional failings, hurting groups such as the poor, women, migrants, people living with disabilities, indigenous groups and older people.For instance, 80 percent of the world’s elderly lack social protection, with large numbers of older people also poor and disabled.
The Report also introduces the idea of life cycle vulnerabilities, the sensitive points inlife where shocks can have greater impact. They include the first 1,000 days of life, and the transitions from school to work, and from work to retirement.
Meanwhile, the rankings remain unchanged at both ends of the HDI. Norway, Australia, Switzerland,Netherlands and United States remain in the lead for another year, while Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger continue to rank bottom of the list.
Despite overall gains in human development, progress in all regions decelerated over 2008–2013 compared to 2000–2008. In the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific region, and Latin America and the Caribbean, average annual growth rate in HDIdropped by about half when comparing these periods.
The steepest declines in HDI values this year occurred in Central African Republic, Libya and Syria, where ongoing conflict contributed to a drop in incomes.
This year’s Report presents HDI values for 187 countries, and is the first index to use the latest International Comparison Program’s conversion rates of national currencies to purchasing power parity, released by the World Bankin May 2014.
Income inequality continues to grow and education remains persistently unequal
The 2014 Report reveals that overall inequality has declined slightly in most regions, as measured by the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). This has been driven mainlyby improvements in health in recent years.
However, inequality in income has risen in several regions, including among very high human development countries. Despite registering the biggest drop in overall inequality this year,the Latin America and Caribbean region maintains the global high-water mark in income inequality.
And high disparities in education persist. The Report shows that older generations continue to struggle with illiteracy, while younger ones are having difficulty making the leap from primary to secondary schooling. The highest levels of education inequality are found in South Asia, the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The IHDI, calculated for 145 countries, shows that the lowest levels of inequality are to be found in Norway, Finland, and Czech Republic.
When ranked by the IHDI, some countries rank lower than when ranked by the HDI.
In United States, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is higher than in Canada. But when the GNI is adjusted for inequality, the reverse becomes true. Similarly, Botswana, Brazil and Chile have large adjustments to GNI per capita due to high inequality.
In 16 countries female HDI values are equal or higher than those for males
The new Gender Development Index (GDI), which for the first time measures the gender gap in human development achievements for 148 countries, reveals that in 16of them (Argentina, Barbados, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay), female HDI values are equal orhigher than those for males. For some of these countries, this may be attributed to higher female educational achievement; for others, to a significantly longer female life expectancy – over five years longer than that of males.
Afghanistan, where the human development index for females is only 60 percent of that for males, is the most unequal country.
Worldwide, female HDI values are eight percent lower than those for males, with large variations between countries.However, the GDI shows that the disparity between genders in the estimated gross national income per capita is very high: per capita income for men at the global level is more than double that for women.
Updates on other human development indices
The Gender Inequality Index (GII) shows an overall decline. However, despite improvements in health, and incremental progress on education and parliamentary representation, women’s empowerment is still lagging. Slovenia ranks most favourably on this index, while Yemen shows the highest gender inequality.
UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) shows deprivations are declining overall, but large numbers of people – some 1.5 billion in the 91 developing countries surveyed – are still multidimensionally poor, and close to 800 million are at risk of falling into poverty if setbacks occur, whether financial, environmental or otherwise.
South Asia has the largest multidimensionally poor population, with more than 800 million poor and over 270 million near-poor – that is, more than 71 percent of its population. This makes the region home to 56 percent of the world’s poor and more than 35 percent of the world’s near-poor.