May 21, 2019

Surprise! Norway Isn't the Greatest Country on Earth

“Every year, the United Nations releases the Human Development Index.

The HDI is like a country’s report card. In a single number, it tells policymakers and citizens how well a country is doing. This year, Norway was at the top of the class, while Niger finished last.

The index first appeared in 1990. Before then, a country’s level of development was measured solely by its economic growth. By taking non-economic dimensions of human well-being into account, the HDI revolutionized the idea of what was meant by countries becoming “more developed.”

The HDI has been wildly successful in changing the way people think about the development process. However, it still suffers from real flaws. There have been numerous attempts to do its job better, including one that we published on Nov. 6.

Eliminating the flaws in the HDI make a substantial difference. For example, Denmark was ranked fifth in the world according to this year’s UN rankings, but our new index knocks it down to only 27th, switching places with Spain.”

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