Bhutan ranks 134 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2017, climbing a step up from its 135 rank in 2016, according to the Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Statistical Update that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released online yesterday.
Bhutan’s HDI value at 0.612 puts the country in the medium human development category. A press release from the UN country office states that Bhutan shares its rank with Kiribati. InSouth Asia, countries that are close to Bhutan in the 2017 HDI rank and to some extent in population size are the Maldives, which ranks 101 and Nepal, 149.
However, when the value is discounted for inequality, the HDI drops to 0.446, a loss of 27.2 percent due to inequality in the distribution of the HDI dimension indices, the press release states. The Maldives and Nepal show losses due to inequality of 23.4 percent and 25.6 percent respectively. The average loss due to inequality for medium HDI countries is 25.1 percent and 26.1 percent for South Asia.
Between 2005 and 2017, Bhutan’s HDI value increased from 0.510 to 0.612, an increase of 20.1 percent. Between 1990 and 2017, Bhutan’s life expectancy at birth increased by 17.7 years, mean years of schooling by 0.8 years, expected years of schooling by 6.9 years and GNI per capita by about 284.2 percent.
Bhutan has a Gender Inequality Index value of 0.476, ranking it 117 out of 160 countries in the 2017 index. The country has 8.3 percent of parliamentary seats held by women, and 6 percent of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education compared to 13.7 percent of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 148 women die from pregnancy related causes. Female participation in the labour market is 58 percent compared to 74.3 for men. In comparison, Maldives ranks 76 and Nepal 118 on this index.
The top five countries in the HID rankings are Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, and Germany while the bottom five are Burundi, Chad, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Niger.
The Human Development Index focuses on three basic dimensions of human development: the ability to lead a long and healthy life, measured by life expectancy at birth; the ability to acquire knowledge, measured by mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling; and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living, measured by gross national income per capita.
The 2018 Statistical Update highlights that across the world, people are living longer, are more educated and have greater livelihood opportunities.
The average lifespan is seven years longer than it was in 1990, and more than 130 countries have universal enrollment in primary education. However, progress since 1990 has not always been steady. Some countries suffered reversals due to conflicts, epidemics or economic crises. Human deprivations remain high despite overall progress, the press release states.
When taking into account inequality in the distribution of achievements of HDI indicators, the global HDI of 0.728 in 2017 falls to 0.582, representing a 20 percent loss and a drop from the high to the medium HDI category. Worldwide inequality in the distribution of income is the highest (22.6 percent) followed by inequality in achievements in education (22.0 percent) and health (15.2 percent).
By region, Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest regional loss in the HDI because of inequality (30.8 percent), followed by South Asia (26.1 percent) and the Arab States (25.1 percent). Europe and Central Asia remain the regions with the lowest overall losses in HDI from inequality at 11.7 percent.
The statistical update also indicates that women have lower HDI than men across regions and face specific barriers to empowerment all through life. Worldwide, the average HDI for women is 6 percent lower than for men. The HDI for men is 0.749 while for women it is 0.705. At the global level, the gap in HDI between women and men is due to women’s lower income and educational attainment in many countries.
At the global level, 44 percent of combined achievements in reproductive health, empowerment and labour market is lost due to inequality in achievements between men and women in these dimensions, as measured by the Gender Inequality index.Among developing regions, Europe and Central Asia have the smallest inequality between men and women (with a GII of 27 percent). Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest GII (of 57 percent), followed by the Arab States (53 percent) and South Asia (52 percent).