For 20 years, the United Nations has published the Human Development Index, which seeks to examine if there is an environment in which people are able to develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives. The Czech Republic came in 28th out of 169 countries. Norway topped the list, while Zimbabwe came in last.
The index ranks countries in three broad categories: health, education and income. The figures for the Czech Republic gave a life expectancy of 76.93 years, up from 70.7 years in 1980. The expected amount of education is 12.3 years for adults, with children currently expected to get 15.2 years, up from 10.2 years for adults and 12.6 expected years in 1980.
The gross national income (GNI) per capita is constant, in 2008 purchasing power parity was $22,678.39, up from $16,519 in 1995. In gender inequality, a new measure this year, the country scored 0.33, with zero being fully equal and one meaning women do as poorly as possible. The Czech Republic came in 28th out of 169 countries. In Slovakia was 31st, Hungary was 36th and Poland was 41st.
“Between 1995 and 2010, the Czech Republic’s HDI value increased from 0.774 to 0.841, an increase of 9 percent or average annual increase of about 0.6 percent,” said Timothy Scott, a member of the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Program. The highest possible score is one.
“The HDI is not designed to assess progress … over a short time period because some of its component indicators do not change rapidly in response to policy changes. This is particularly so for mean years of schooling and life expectancy at birth. It is, however, useful to review HDI progress over the medium to long term,” he added.
As for the rest of the Visegrád Four countries, Slovakia was 31st, Hungary was 36th and Poland was 41st. All four made it onto the list of countries with very high development.
Between 1995 and 2010, Slovakia’s GNI per capita increased by 90 percent, according to Scott. Poland’s GNI per capita increased by 120 percent between 1990 and 2010, and Hungary’s GNI per capita increased by 51 percent between 1980 and 2010, he added. All the V4 countries saw increases in life expectancy and levels of education.
There were some changes in methodology this year. A new measure for a large number of countries takes into account inequality in all three dimensions of the HDI by “discounting” each dimension’s average value according to its level of inequality.
“The Czech Republic’s HDI for 2010 when discounted for inequality falls to 0.790, a loss of 6.1 percent due to inequality in the distribution of the dimension indices. This 6.1 percent inequality-adjusted loss is the lowest globally. This compares with inequality-adjusted HDI losses due to inequality for Hungary, Poland and Slovakia of 8.6 percent, 10.8 percent, and 6.7 percent, respectively,” Scott said.
While much of Europe made it onto the list for very high development, some European countries including Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Ukraine only made it into the high human development category. Moldova did the poorest in Europe, coming in 99th place and ending up on the medium human development list. Neighboring Germany, at 10th place, did significantly better than the Czech Republic, while Austria at 25th place just barely beat it.
A better world
Overall, there is a global trend toward improvement. The world’s average HDI has increased 18 percent since 1990 (and 41 percent since 1970), and this reflects large aggregate improvements in life expectancy, school enrollment, literacy and income, according to a report summary. Only the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe have a lower index rating than in 1970. The rate for improvement in other countries isn’t uniform.
“Those experiencing the slowest progress are countries in Sub-Saharan Africa struck by the HIV epidemic and countries in the former Soviet Union suffering increased adult mortality,” the summary said. Life expectancy in Belarus, the Russia and Ukraine has dropped below 1970 levels.