TAIPEI, Taiwan: – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked St. Vincent and the Grenadines 91 among 182 countries in its 2009 human development index (HDI).

The index measures human development in terms of a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.

The report says that human development is about putting people at the centre of development.

“It is about people realizing their potential, increasing their choices and enjoying the freedom to lead lives they value,” it said.

This year’s rankings, released on Monday, were based on data collected in 2007 and SVG had an HDI of 0.772. (Full SVG report)

In 2004, SVG ranked 88 among 177 countries, with an HDI of 0.759, compared to 92 among 179 countries in 2006.

The HDI has been published each year since 1990 and have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity and climate change.

The UNDP said that the latest index “highlights the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide our increasingly interconnected world”.

It further said that migration, both within and beyond borders, has become an increasingly prominent theme in domestic and international debates, and is the topic of the 2009 report

The index also takes into account a broader definition of well-being, including life expectancy, adult literacy and gross enrolment in education, and purchasing power parity (income).

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was 91 among the 182 countries on the HDI 2009.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines was 91 among the 182 countries on the HDI 2009.

SVG’s ranking this year compares to Norway’s 0.971, the highest HDI in the world, and Barbados’ 0.903, the highest in the Caribbean and the 37th in the world. (Full HDI Rankings)

Barbados is the only Caribbean country listed among the nations with “very high human development”, which includes the United States and the United Kingdom.

SVG was listed lower in the ranking than eight other Caribbean countries: Cuba – 52, Bahamas – 52, St. Kitts and Nevis – 62, Trinidad and Tobago – 64, St. Lucia – 69, Dominica – 73, Grenada -74, and the Dominican Republic – 90.

The report said that SVG had an emigration rate of 34.4 percent with the major continent of destination being Northern America, with 51.9 percent of emigrants living there.

In 2007, the report said, US$31m (EC$83.9m) in remittances were sent to SVG. Average remittances per person were US$254 (EC$685.80), compared with the average for Latin America and the Caribbean of US$114 (EC$308.80).

Non-comprehensive measure

The Human Development Report says that the index is a not a comprehensive measure of human development.

It does not include indicators such as gender or income inequality nor respect for human rights and political freedoms, which it described as “more difficult to measure concepts”.

“What it does provide is a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being,” the report said.

It further explained that of the components of the HDI, only income and gross enrolment are somewhat responsive to short term policy changes.

The report said it was therefore important to examine changes in the human development index over time.

“The human development index trends tell an important story in that respect,” it said, adding that HDI scores in all regions have increased progressively over the years although all have experienced periods of slower growth or even reversals.