News

UN Report Finds Development Progress Even in Poorest Countries

Children play outside a house in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, 27 May 2010
Children play outside a house in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, 27 May 2010
Margaret Besheer

In a new report released on Thursday, the United Nations says most developing countries have made dramatic progress in health, education and basic living standards in recent decades, but gaps remain.

The authors of the 2010 Human Development Report go a step beyond just looking at economic indicators such as Gross National Product to evaluate and rank countries.  They work from the premise that people are the real wealth of nations.  So in addition to economic factors, researchers studied progress in the areas of health and education.

U.N. Development Program Administrator Helen Clark, whose division oversees the annual study, spoke about some of the report's findings, which includes a review of the human development record in 135 countries since 1970.

"And the review finds, overall, people today are healthier, more educated, and wealthier than ever before," said Clark.  "Since 1970, globally we have seen average life expectancy rise from 59 to 70 years.  We have seen school enrollment grow from 55 to 70 percent and per capita incomes doubled to more than $10,000 on average in real terms."

Clark said some of the poorest countries have seen some of the greatest human development gains.

"This report shows that the gap in health and education outcomes between developed and developing countries has narrowed significantly over the past four decades, even though the income divide, with a few notable exceptions, has worsened," Clark added.

Researchers studied 135 countries, representing 92 percent of the world's population.  Developed nations Norway, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Ireland led the rankings.

The countries that showed the fastest progress during the past 40 years on economic, health and education fronts are Oman, China, Nepal, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.  Rounding out the top 10 are Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco.

"China, in fact, is the only country in the top 10 in terms of the Human Development Index, which gets there solely on the basis of income performance.  In all other cases, performance in health and education has been very important," said Jeni Klugman, the report's lead author.

Klugman singled out South Korea and Indonesia for their balanced development approach and said that as a result, they have achieved significant success.

But the study's authors found that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia are lagging.  They attribute this to factors such as armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and economic upheaval.

For instance, in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, life expectancy has declined during the last four decades.  The same trend was found in the DRC, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The authors measured poverty based not only on income, but also on other factors, including poor health and nutrition, bad housing conditions and social exclusion.  Using this multi-dimensional scale, the study concludes that about a third of the world's population, some 1.7 billion people, live in poverty.  That is more than the 1.3 billion that the World Bank estimates live on $1.25 or less per day.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs