Friday, May 8, 2009

Is Part of China in the First World?

I'm just gonna keep on keeping on with this intranational HDI comparison kick. Today: China!

There's obviously a huge range in the development levels between the different provinces of China; I'm guessing it's the greatest range in the world, with some areas comparable to European countries like Portugal or the Czech Republic, and peripheral provinces that are more similar to come countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Here's the list of administrative divisions, helpfully pre-compiled by Wikipedia, with the nation with the most similar HDI in parentheses (note that the Chinese numbers are from 2005, and numbers for countries are from 2006):

1. Hong Kong - .938 (Germany)
2. Shanghai - .913 (Kuwait)
3. Macau - .909 (Cyprus)
4. Beijing - .897 (Czech Republic)
5. Tianjin - .877 (Hungary)
6. Zhejiang - .831 (Panama)
7. Jiangsu - .821 (Serbia)
8. Guangdong - .820 (Saint Lucia)
9. Liaoning - .814 (Belarus)
10. Shandong - .797 (Dominica, or Mississippi)
11. Heilongjiang - .786 (Thailand)
12. Fujian - .786 (Ukraine)
13. Jilin - .780 (Armenia)
14. Hebei - .779 (Iran)
China - .777
15. Shanxi - .775 (Tonga)
16. Inner Mongolia - .765 (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
17. Hainan - .762 (Tunisia)
18. Henan - .758 (Azerbaijan)
19. Chongqing - .756 (Azerbaijan)
20. Hubei - .755 (Paraguay)
21. Hunan - .752 (Paraguay)
22. Xinjiang - .744 (Philippines)
23. Shaanxi - .742 (Sri Lanka)
24. Guangxi - .741 (Sri Lanka)
25. Jiangxi - .735 (Syria)
26. Sichuan - .728 (Turkmenistan)
27. Ningxia - .724 (Guyana)
28. Anhui - .723 (Bolivia)
29. Qinghai - .685 (Vanuatu)
30. Gansu - .681 (Tajikistan)
31. Yunnan - .672 (South Africa)
32. Guizhou - .647 (Morocco)
33. Tibet - .616 (Congo)

The top nine administrative divisions would all be considered to have a high level of human development - an HDI above .800; they're concentrated along the coast. A second tier of provinces is concentrated in the near interior; it runs from Heilongjiang in the northeast down through Hunan and Chongqing in the south. The deep interior and the far south are China's least developed regions, and the more or less colonized region of Tibet is the least developed of all. Of course, all the provinces of China are developing rapidly. In 1975, the country as a whole had an HDI of .523, comparable to Haiti or Bangladesh today. Even as recently as 2000, its HDI was just .721 (comparable to Mongolia). And now it's closing in on .800, which would officially give it high development status, according to this metric. It will be interesting to see to what extent China is able to spread the wealth around and bring all of its provinces along as it continues to make development gains. If the lessons of the US are worth anything, then China may find that historical patterns of uneven development can have a very long legacy indeed.


Anonymous said...

China in 2000 compared to Mongolia...@.@

Doesn't that indicate HDI is a joke?

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Don't see why.

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I like in Dhaka and make loads of money. Is my house part of the First World? Makes about as much sense.

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Talking about the level of development of your house makes as much sense as talking about the level of development of provinces that contain tens of millions of people?

I disagree.

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