HDI Assignment

Development is the process by which a country improves its standards of living over time, and what a country does to enhance the lives of its population. Several Indicators are used to measure Development across Economic, Environmental and Social indicators. Economic Indicators include GDP per Capita, and as the Economy grows, so do jobs and development.Social Indicators include access to clean water. Indicators also rise with each other, as shown in Figure A below, where the UK’s Life Expectancy Grows at the same time as its GDP per Capita grows. Also, different countries in the same region develop at a relatively similar rate, such as the example in Figure B, where France and Britain’s life expectancy and GDP per Capita rise at a similar steady rate. All in all, Development is the ability of a country’s people to live happy, long, healthy lives; it is not just a country’s income.In the study of Development, Geographers also study patterns in Countries’ Development. The major pattern found is the North-South Divide. Although there are anomalies such as Australia, countries in the north are generally more developed than countries in the south.The HDI (Human Development Index) was a new way of measuring Development. Created in 1990, it was invented for the sole purpose of putting people’s lives at the centre of the study of development of the world. It combines several indicators together to form an summarised idea of a country’s development, hiding extremes and creating a single figure for simple comparison, reflecting heavily on the quality of the world’s people, not just on income; GDP per Capita was the generally used figure at the time. Another problem with using income is that income can be used for things like gangs and military, the same income could also be used for medicine and schools.But the HDI, due to its focus on things like life expectancy, ensures that its relations to income show only the good uses of income and not the bad uses, like GDP per Capita could have done. It ranks every country based on three basic human needs: Health, Education, and Income. Figures are between 0 and 1. Using a single indicator only shows one aspect of development, which is a problem because, for example, GDP per Capita can be inaccurate as a Country may have very poor people in Absolute Poverty as well as very, very rich people. GDP per Capita also concentrated on things that did not make up the whole idea of development: goods, income and trade. It doesn’t show the quality of human lives in said country.This causes inaccuracies when using such a figure as a single indicator of Development. A composite indicator such as the HDI gives a much more balanced idea of development. However, one problem with it is that it takes each country in general; however, certain countries can have very different levels of development within it in several areas or ethnic groups. Another problem is that it isn’t gender specific. In certain countries, women might have a much worse Standard of Living than the men in the same country.Despite this, the HDI is still a better indicator of development than just a single indicator. In summary, the reason we use it so often is because it uses the most important figures from all aspects of development into one figure that hides odd extremes and makes it easier to compare different countries’ development levels.In terms of a comparison between two different countries, I chose Rwanda and Portugal. This is because my old school has a sister school in Rwanda, so I’m interested in its level of development. Portugal is the foreign country that I’ve been to the most.I chose Life Expectancy, Adult Literacy and GDP per Capita as my three Development Indicators as each one represents the key figure in my opinion of different aspects of Development; Social, Economic and Demographic. This means that I have figures in the table above and the graph below that represent all aspects of the countries’ development and give a good, balanced, overall picture of development. The data is from the 2009 report.The HDI Ranks of the two countries are 34 for Portugal and 167 for Rwanda, as shown in the table above. This shows that the two countries are very far apart in development, as shown in the chart above. The HDI rank of Portugal has fallen once since the 2007/08 Report, Rwanda’s rank has remained the same, with its HDI figure barely rising. This, however, may be due to the First and Second Congo Wars, with Rwanda and surrounding African countries being at almost constant war between 1996 and 2003, during which money may have been spent on the military rather on Development. This could have caused problems of Development within Central Africa.Both these countries fall into the general North-South Divide, with Rwanda in the South being less Developed than Portugal in the North. Statistics also from the UN’s Development Reports show that 32.9% of Rwanda’s Population are living under poverty and 23% of Children under 5 are underweight for their age, ranking 100th out of 135 on the Human Poverty Index. However, both Rwanda and Portugal’s gender specific readings, measuring the Development gap between Males and Females, show 99.8%, meaning that there is 0.4% difference in both countries’ population between genders. This figure surprised me a little.Figures that I didn’t include in the charts above include Child Mortality, which is just as significant. Rwanda has the 9th highest Child Mortality Rate in the world, with 181 of every 1000 children dying before the age of 5. On a Physical side, Rwanda is hard to access, being a very elevated and mountainous country, in fact, it’s known as ‘the land of a thousand hills’ by some. This might have had an effect on health care and food being able to reach its people, which may be why the Child Mortality rate and Life Expectancy are so low in Rwanda.Figures from Portugal and Rwanda prove the link between Development and Education, Quality of Health Care and Income. The Adult Literacy Rates of the two countries reflect on the HDI Ranks, with Portugal, the more Developed Country, having a higher rate than Rwanda, the less Developed Country. The Life Expectancy also proves the link between the two, with Portugal having a much higher life expectancy than Rwanda. Jobs and Income are also linked with the GDP per Capita being much, much higher in Portugal. This is evidence for the several different aspects of development being linked.

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