ST. VINCENT: – St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), along with 13 other nations were not included in the United Nations 2010 Human Development Index (HDI) because enough information was not available to make the calculation, in keeping with a new system of analysis.
However the Human Development Report (HDR) says the nation “has made progress on all three indicators” for which data are available.
Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace on Wednesday, Nov. 10, bemoaned to supporters of his New Democratic Party (NDP), the country’s omission from the HDI, saying “That is a disgrace to this country.”
“It’s as if we don’t exist as a people, as a country. That is what this country has come to under [Prime Minister Dr.] Ralph Gonsalves. They can’t even accept the information we have sent and they deem it unreliable and now we are off the index,” Eustace said.
But a note explaining the omission advised readers of the report to assess progress in the HDI value based on the ‘Human Development Index Trends’.
The Human Development Index Trends is based on “consistent indicators, methodology and time series data and thus shows real changes in values and ranks over time”.
The Human Development Index Trends therefore reflect the actual progress countries have made.
“It is misleading and inappropriate to compare values and rankings across published reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed,” the report said.
Trends in SVG’s health and income indicators, based on consistent time series data, show that in 1980, life expectancy at birth was 65.8 years, expected years of schooling was 10 and gross national income (GNI) per capita was US$2,837 (EC$7659.90).
GNI comprises the total value produced within a country — its gross domestic product (GDP) –, together with its income received from other countries, minus similar payments made to other countries.
By 2000, life expectancy at birth had increased to 70.4 years, expected years of schooling stood at 12.7 and GNI per capita was US$6,129 (EC$16,548.30).
In 2010, life expectancy at birth was 72.4 years and GNI per capita was US$8,535 (EC$23,044.50). While the expected years of schooling in 2010 was unavailable, it was 13.5 in 2005.
The note said this year’s HDR introduced “several minor but still significant” adjustments in the indicators and methodology used to calculate the HDI.
This year’s report introduces three new composite indices on an experimental basis, namely Inequality-adjusted HDI, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Multidimensional Poverty Index.
According to the report, data availability determines HDI country coverage and where possible, the HDI is calculated based on data from leading international data agencies and other credible data sources available at the time of writing the HDR.
However, for a number of countries, data are missing from these agencies for one or more of the four HDI component indicators.
“Where reliable data are unavailable and there is significant uncertainty about the validity of data estimates, countries are excluded in order to ensure the credibility of the HDR and the family of HDR indices,” the report said.
This year, the HDI was calculated for only 169 countries, 168 members of the United Nation and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China.
SVG, along with fellow Caribbean nations Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, is not included in the HDI rankings because data were missing for one or more of the indicators.
The report said that SVG has data on three of the four indicators making up the HDI but lacks data on mean years of schooling.
It however said that a review of trends in the nation’s income, health and expected years of schooling indicators shows that the country has made progress on all three indicators.
“Between 1980 and 2010, life expectancy at birth increased by seven years and expected years of schooling increased by nearly three years between 1980 and 2005,” the report said.
It further said that between 1980 and 2010, SVG’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by nearly 200 per cent.
The HDI assesses long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
In previous reports these were measured by life expectancy at birth; adult literacy rate and combined gross enrolment in education; and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity US dollars (PPP US$) respectively.
The indicators measuring access to knowledge and a decent standard of living have changed in this year’s report.
Access to knowledge is measured by:
- mean years of adult education – which is the average number of years of education received in a life-time by people aged 25 years; and,
- older and expected years of schooling for children of school-entrance age – which is the total number of years of schooling a child of school-entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrolment rates stay the same throughout the child’s life.
The report said the new measures are used because a number of countries, especially those at the top of the HDI ladder, have achieved high levels of combined gross enrolment ratios and adult literacy rates, weakening the discriminatory power of these indicators.
“Mean years of adult education and expected years of schooling for children capture the concept of education better than the previous indicators and have stronger discriminating power across countries. These indicators are also better at capturing recent changes in education and school enrolment. However, as with the previous indicators, they do not assess quality of education,” the report said.
Further, standard of living is now measured by GNI per capita in PPP US$, instead of GDP per capita in Purchasing power parity United States dollars (US$).
“While GDP is a measure of economic output, it does not reflect a country’s disposable income—some profits may be repatriated abroad, some residents receive remittances from abroad, and in some cases inbound aid flows may be sizeable. GNI adjusts the GDP for these factors and is therefore a better measure of a country’s level of income,” the report said.