Trends in Human Development and Human Poverty in Namibia

31 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2007 Last revised: 8 Feb 2011

See all articles by Sebastian Levine

Sebastian Levine

United Nations Development Programme

Date Written: October 1, 2007


This paper uses a capability approach to analyse current levels and recent trends in socioeconomic development and poverty in Namibia. Based on official national data sources - some specially adjusted for this analysis by the Central Bureau of Statistics - the Human Development Index (HDI) and Human Poverty Index (HPI) for Namibia are computed and analysed. A central finding is that contrary to the objectives of Vision 2030, human development in Namibia appears to be on a long-term decline. The HDI is being pulled down by a fall in life expectancy that is only partially offset by improvements in household income and educational attainment; the other two dimensions of human development included in the index. The principal reason for the reduction in life expectancy is the increased mortality caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The analysis also reveals great inequalities in human development between different administrative regions of Namibia and between the country's main language groups. Similarly, by broadening the definition of poverty to focus on deprivation in a range of essential capabilities, the level of human poverty in Namibia is found to be slightly higher than what is suggested by official income poverty measures. Moreover, income poverty appears to be decreasing while human poverty is increasing over time. Again it is the HIV/AIDS epidemic, through its negative impact on survival, which is propelling a long-term deterioration in human poverty. Additional analysis suggests that when using population size and HDI as allocation criteria the administrative regions with the greatest needs are under - prioritised in the development budget.

Keywords: Human Development Index, Human Poverty Index, HIV/AIDS, Namibia

JEL Classification: I31, I32, H72, O55

Suggested Citation

Levine, Sebastian, Trends in Human Development and Human Poverty in Namibia (October 1, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Sebastian Levine (Contact Author)

United Nations Development Programme ( email )


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