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An Axiomatization of the Human Development Index

22 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2011 Last revised: 24 May 2013

Eduardo Zambrano

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - Economics

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Date Written: March 30, 2013

Abstract

In 2010 the UNDP unveiled a new methodology for the calculation of the Human Development Index (HDI). In this paper I investigate the normative and practical properties of this change vis a vis the original formulation of the HDI in 1990. The main conceptual innovation of the new index can be summarized as follows: the new HDI penalizes both low and uneven achievements across all dimensions of human development, whereas the old formulation is not sensitive to such uneven development. In practice, however, both methodologies agree considerably in terms of how they rank countries, but when they differ, the new methodology produces results more consistent with what the HDI is intended to measure: human development and capabilities, as conceptualized by Sen (1985).

Keywords: Human Development Index, Capabilities

JEL Classification: C43, D63, I31

Suggested Citation

Zambrano, Eduardo, An Axiomatization of the Human Development Index (March 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1898379 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1898379

Eduardo Zambrano (Contact Author)

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - Economics ( email )

Orfalea College of Business
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States
805-756-5327 (Phone)
805-756-1473 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://calpoly.edu/~ezambran

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