Bhutan ranks 132 on Human Development Index

The 2016 Human Development Report entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), calls for stronger focus on those excluded and on actions to dismantle the barriers urgently needed to ensure sustainable human development for all.

On the 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) entitled Human Development for Everyone, of the UNDP, Bhutan has been ranked 132 out of 188 countries positioning the country in the medium human development category along with India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and 41 other countries.

According to a press release from UNDP, Bhutan’s Human Development Index (HDI) has increased by six percent anchored by a 17.4 percent increase in life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling by 0.8 years and expected years of schooling by 7.1 years. The Gross National Income per capita also increased by about 236.2 percent between 1990 and 2015.

The HDI is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

The 2016 HDR, which was launched by the UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, and Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, in Stockholm on March 21, focuses on how human development can be ensured for every one – now and in future, states the press release.

The report explores who has been left behind in human development progress and why. “Human development progress over the past 25 years has been impressive on many fronts. But the gains have not been universal,” states the press release, adding that the report makes clear that progress in the Asia and Pacific region has not benefited everyone.

Despite a steep drop in poverty between 1990 and 2013 – in East Asia, the proportion of people living on less than USD 1.90 a day fell from 60 percent to under four percent, and in South Asia from 45 percent to 15 percent – some 54 percent of the world’s multidimensional poor live in South Asia, as measured by the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

According to the press release, although Bhutan’s HDI for 2015 stood at 0.607, the index spirals down by 29.4 percent due to inequality in the distribution of the dimension indices to 0.428. “This is fuelled by Bhutan’s inequality coefficient which is equal to 28.4 percent as compared to 27.7 percent in South Asia and 25.7 percent for other medium HDI countries.”

“But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone,” said Helen Clark.

Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Haoliang Xu, said: “This report uncovers a deeper story behind the statistics,” adding that, “Even in a region that has made such remarkable progress, pockets of exclusion continue to prevent millions of people from fulfilling their true potential.”

The report shows that the disparities disproportionally impact women, ethnic minorities and people living in remote areas and can suffer deprivations both overt and hidden, according to the press release.

In Bhutan, 29.4 percent of the population are multidimensionally poor while an additional 18.0 percent live near multidimensional poverty. The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Bhutan, which is the average deprivation score experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 43.5 percent, states the press release.

The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.128. Maldives and Nepal have MPIs of 0.008 and 0.116 respectively.

“We place too much attention on national averages, which often mask enormous variations in people’s lives,” stated Selim Jahan, the director of the Human Development Report Office. “In order to advance we need to examine more closely not just what has been achieved, but who has been excluded and why?”

According to the report, Asia-Pacific has the largest gender gap of all developing regions. The report shows that gender-based inequalities linked to patriarchal social norms afflict women over their entire lives.

The press release stated that such disparities, manifests in higher malnourishment, morbidity and mortality for women; lower labour force participation rates for women, but higher workloads and less rest among many more.

Country-wise, Bhutan has a Gender Inequality Index (GII) value of 0.477, ranking it 110th out of 159 countries. Women hold 8.3 percent parliamentary seats and 5.8 percent adult women have reached at least secondary level education compared to 13.4 percent men.

For every 100,000 live births, 148 Bhutanese women die from pregnancy related causes and adolescent birth rate is 21.4 births per 1,000 women between the age of 15 and 19 years. Female participation in the labour market is 58.7 percent to that of 72.8 for men, according to the press release.

Staff reporter 

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