Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Human Development Over Time: Maps from the UN

The site for the UN's Human Development Report has maps that show the (somewhat) shifting geography of development over the past few decades. Here are maps of HDI - broken into the conceptually nebulous but statistically precise categories of "low," "medium" and "high" development - for three selected years:

The main action seems to have been in Latin America, where several countries have gone from medium (.500-.800 on the HDI scale) to high (.800+), and in South Asia, where the entire Subcontinent has jumped the bar from low (<.500) to medium development.

But of course you notice how broad these categories are: high devlopment countries as of 2006 include everything from Ecuador to Denmark; middle income countries include both Thailand and Papua New Guinea. But you can click on countries to get a ton of details on demographics, health, education, and economics. You can also see HDI numbers for every hald-decade since 1975; China, for instance, has gone from .530 in 1975 to .777 in 2005.


K H D and sometimes T said...

africa doesn't look to shabby either. Overall it gives the impression of progress, doesn't it? almost makes you think the status quo is working - and for that, i'm not a big fan.

Chachy said...

Yeah, though there's such a big gap between countries at the lower end of the "medium development" spectrum, like most of the ones in Africa, and those at the higher end, like Thailand... a low-middle and high-middle distinction would have been helpful.

As for the status quo: yeah... not great. And of course one way that the status quo could change is that it could be considerably improved. But that's only one of the ways...

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