Human development levels are improving throughout the world, but there are large regional differences

The Human Development Index (HDI), which serves as a frame of reference for both social and economic development, combines three dimensions to measure progress: a “long and healthy life” (life expectancy), “access to knowledge” (school enrollment) and “standard of living” (gross national income). Over the past 20 years, the HDI has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development. Although progress has been made, large differences in values and growth are visible between regions, with Africa lagging far behind. “Most people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated and have more access to goods and services. Even in countries facing adverse economic conditions, people’s health and education have greatly improved” (UNDP 2011).

This graphic is part of the publication Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment.

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