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November 13, 2010

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Don Stoll

This is startling in light of the apparent recent rise of anti-Muslim passion in the United States. Americans need to hear the good news, especially about the progress of gender relations in Tunisia, since even Americans whom one would not ordinarily classify as bigots tend to assume Islam's incompatibility with empowerment of women.

For example, when I report the prevalence of genital cutting in the overwhelmingly Catholic village in Tanzania where I do development work, I usually hear something like, "I thought only the Muslims did that!"

Theugliest

How much of this is due to the extremely low baseline in 1970, vis a vis the East Asian peers? Having worked in Morocco, yes, progress has been made, but the HDI situation is still abysmal.

At the same time, it does not surprise me that much. Having lived and worked in a number of Muslim countries, there has been a somewhat successful adaptation over time of the paternalistic tribal model to modern needs. One thing that a lot of Westerners do not realize is that a non-democratic government can still be legitimate and genuinely represent the subjects, sometimes more so than a nominal democracy that breaks down traditional lines of patronage and responsibility.

Ravi

I wonder how you can talk about democratization in general as both Tunisia and Algeria are republics while Morocco is a kingdom. Is the fact that these countries lie geographically in the same region enough to blanket them in the same category? If the focus is on them being Muslim, you should look at how different Afghanistan was before the Taliban screwed them

Bartman

Algeria is a member of OPEC and Indonesia is an east Asian nation.

foetus

tunisia is shit, it's a tough dictatorship where free expression means prison, torture and repression, and if you dare to publish that online it gets censored. that's our case since august 2000 and needless to say youtube, dailymotion and all video sharing sites for that matter are blocked while facebook is filtered and the net lives on DPI.
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Igor Louboff

In my understanding, this post originates from the unexpected results provided by the HDR top-ten improvement table, composed of a majority of Moslem countries while we would intuitively be expecting a higher number of East Asian countries. The HDR 2010 tables show that from 1980 to 2010, six out of the ten top movers in HDI are Moslem countries while China is the only representative of the East Asian champions.

Why is that? If we deepen just a bit into the data, we will find three main reasons explaining this unexpected result. First, data is lacking for some East Asian countries (Singapore and Taiwan), as well as various other key MICs (e.g. Brazil). As a result, these countries are not even considered as potential ‘top movers’.

Second, the improvement ranking is based on deviations from fit (“measures of progress capturing changes in a country’s indicators relative to the average change for countries starting from the same point”). In other words, the score registered by a country represents its relative improvement in front of a set of (initially) similar peers. In 1980, the top ten countries of the ranking all registered initial HDI scores ranging from 0.210 (Nepal) to 0.443 (Algeria) while East Asian champions were already part of another HDI category ranging from 0.483 (Thailand) to 0.693 (Hong-Kong). As a result, the scores registered by EA countries reflected their relative improvement in comparison to countries such as Chile or Saudi Arabia while the top-ten countries were ‘competing’ with countries such as Togo, Cote d’Ivoire or Zambia. Therefore, registering a high improvement score was much more likely to happen within the lower group than within the higher one, thus explaining the under-representation of East Asian countries in this top mover table.

Third, various East Asian champions have reached high HDI score (0. 877 for South Korea, 0.862 for Hong Kong, etc.), logically making marginal progress more difficult.

Are we observing a North African Miracle? Maybe. Were health and educational policies at the center of this positive evolution? Probably. Can we draw any valuable conclusion from this ranking? Only if we take into consideration how the information presented was produced and which countries were not included in the dataset.

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Carlos

Sir, what do you think about of case of Latin America? Because in the report of Human Development, LAC is the counspicuously unequal.

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Hmmm, perhaps is still immature to be published..

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Around the world, most people are much better off today than they were just a few years ago according to the 2010 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR). From Italy to South Korea to China and India, Human Development Index (HDI) scores increased from 22 to 80 percent since 1980. More than 3.376 billion people in 16 different countries, accounting for more than 49 percent of the world’s population, benefited from development improvements of 50 percent or more. Moreover, the gains of the top 45 countries have been distributed around the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

South Korea managed to both earn an overall HDI ranking of #12 just behind Japan and Germany and rank #23 on the list of the countries with the largest HDI percentage increases. On the other hand, the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland stand out for their relatively modest increases in HDI over the past 20-30 years.

In Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, and Turkey, life expectancy at birth increased by 12 to 19 years. On average, world life expectancy at birth increased by six years and GDP per capita grew by 289 percent.

On the other hand, multidimensional poverty and inequality still undercut development gains in too many countries. In Haiti for example, 57 percent of the population lives in poverty, and the HDR figures that large income and gender inequities reduce Haiti’s already low HDI score by about 41 percent.

Overall, the 2010 HDR paints a story of substantial development progress on many fronts. While there is still much to be done to alleviate the remaining poverty and inequality, most of the world’s people enjoy much longer, healthier lives and higher standards of living than they did just 20 or 30 years ago.

For more, please refer to the Global Sherpa article on the 2010 UNDP HDR at:

http://www.globalsherpa.org/analysis-global-progress-2010-undp-human-development-report-index

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I am currently working in Ethiopia, a country ranked 2nd among the 'top movers' between the years 2000 and 2010. As stated in the Human Development Report, Ethiopia's life expectancy increased 5 years during this time, GNI per capita increased by 75%, and expected years of schooling increased by 4 years. These are all important advancements, but the stark reality is that 90% of the population suffers from some form of poverty, while another 5% is vulnerable.

Ethiopia ranked 11th of 'top movers' between 1970 and 2010, though I feel it is a stretch to call Ethiopia an 'unsung miracle' because of the endemic poverty in the country. Perhaps lauding a country for its 'top mover' label is an overstatement.

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They should be known by the media.

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Moslem countries that you mentioned above do not have industrial policy too. I wonder how sustainable their progress is.

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There is now substantial evidence that the health and schooling of children can be raised by empowering women.

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"... Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria have experienced remarkable gains in life expectancy and educational attainment, leaving many Asian superstars in the dust."

Pun not intended?

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@Igor Louboff Excellent point, I was wondering about that.

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True enough. Impressive progress was made in Maghreb, especially in terms of schooling and life expectancy. While I agree with the general message, it should be added, however, that universal primary schooling sometimes hides less spectacular results in reading and other skills. Replace GDP per capita in log by GDP per capita in the HDI and you'll also get a somewhat different picture.

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As stated in the Human Development Report, Ethiopia's life expectancy increased 5 years during this time, GNI per capita increased by 75%, and expected years of schooling increased by 4 years

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Which are the countries that have improved their human development indicators the most since 1970 relative to their peers? You’d be surprised, as I was, to find that the top 10 is dominated not by East Asian superstars, but by Moslem countries: Oman, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.


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