An Overview of the Problem (cont.)

A map of global inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), courtesy of Wikipedia.  Red shades indicate low IHDI, green shades indicate high IHDI.
A map of global inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), courtesy of Wikipedia. Red shades indicate low IHDI, green shades indicate high IHDI.

From the UN, emphasis added:

Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)

The IHDI takes into account not only the average achievements of a country on health, education and income, but also how those achievements are distributed among its population by “discounting” each dimension’s average value according to its level of inequality. The IHDI is distribution-sensitive average level of HD. Two countries with different distributions of achievements can have the same average HDI value. Under perfect equality the IHDI is equal to the HDI, but falls below the HDI when inequality rises. The difference between the IHDI and HDI is the human development cost of inequality, also termed – the loss to human development due to inequality. The IHDI allows a direct link to inequalities in dimensions, it can inform policies towards inequality reduction, and leads to better understanding of inequalities across population and their contribution to the overall human development cost.

This year we have introduced the Coefficient of human inequality, a new measure of inequality in HDI, calculated as an average inequality across three dimensions. For more details on computation, see Technical notes.

The IHDI is calculated for 145 countries.

The average global loss in HDI due to inequality is about 22.9 %—ranging from 5.5% (Finland) to 44.0% (Angola). People in sub-Saharan Africa suffer the largest losses due to inequality in all three dimensions, followed by South Asia and the Arab States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers the highest inequality in health (36.6%), while South Asia has the highest inequality in education (41.6%). The region of Arab States also has the highest inequality in education (38%), Latin America and the Caribbean suffers the largest inequality in income (36.3%).

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An Overview of the Problem

Global HDI map, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Darker shades indicate higher HDIs.
Global HDI map, courtesy of Wikipedia. Darker shades indicate higher HDIs.

From the UN, emphasis added:

The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with different human development outcomes. These contrasts can stimulate debate about government policy priorities.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions.

The HDI does not reflect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, etc. The HDRO offers the other composite indices as broader proxy on some of the key issues of human development, inequality, gender disparity and human poverty.

First Some Basics

The first step to exploring the topic of global inequality is to become familiar with the species being studied.

From the Smithsonian:

The species that you and all other living human beings on this planet belong to is Homo sapiens. During a time of dramatic climate change 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Like other early humans that were living at this time, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviors that helped them respond to the challenges of survival in unstable environments.

Anatomically, modern humans can generally be characterized by the lighter build of their skeletons compared to earlier humans. Modern humans have very large brains, which vary in size from population to population and between males and females, but the average size is approximately 1300 cubic centimeters. Housing this big  brain involved the reorganization of the skull into what is thought of as “modern” — a thin-walled, high vaulted skull with a flat and near vertical forehead. Modern human faces also show much less (if any) of the heavy brow ridges and prognathism of other early humans. Our jaws are also less heavily developed, with smaller teeth.

Emphasis added.