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The Concept of Human Development

Last updated date: 21st Mar 2023
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Human development is the cluster of measures taken by the government to enrich the lives of a country’s citizens with better scopes, opportunities, infrastructure, and adding more freedom to enlarge the phases of life. It is measured using a human development index calculated using different mathematical representations of various factors. It is one of the biggest topics of discussion in the economic forums and organizations of the world. In this article, we will study what it is elaborately and indicators considered for measuring human development.

What is Human Development?

Human development, as mentioned earlier, is a process that the government of every country undertakes to escalate the level of happiness, lifestyle, living conditions, healthcare, and other important aspects of modern civilization.

There are various indicators that are considered to understand this term and to calculate their impacts to find a reference frame for analyzing the development index. The prime aim of a government is to enlarge the different aspects such as freedom, opportunities, rights, etc. The concept of human development emerged in the 1970s from the supervision and analysis of Mahbub ul Haq, a renowned Pakistani economist.

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Explanation of Human Development

His explanation of the terms and their necessity in the modern-day world in the World Bank made everyone present consider the importance of an index that can measure the development of people in a country. His unique ideas made him the finance minister of Pakistan later. He argued with the rest of the members on the bench that the actual human development purposes are barely meeting the standards or getting diluted in the process.

According to his concept of human development, the term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is unable to define the level of development of human beings in a country. His debates clearly suggested that this commonly used term is unable to measure the current condition of humans and is unable to give the right figure to compare.

Haq worked with eminent economists such as Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen and other eminent economists on this concept and eventually published the first Human Development Index in 1990. It was the first introduction to human development in the world that was conducted and supervised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

What is the Prime Human Development Approach?

Now that we know what human development is, we need to understand its approach and implementation. A technique needs to be defined to understand and design a strategy for the development of human beings. In fact, a solid foundation was required to understand the level of development actually happening in a country.

This is where the term human development index was defined using various indicators. The central approach rotates around the foundation of capabilities of people. It is to determine the capabilities of the people and what they can do with them. These basic capabilities determined are knowledge gathering platforms, good health, and standard material life.

The other capabilities included in this approach are freedom, the capability to make or participate in making a major decision, social respect, freedom from violence, relaxation, and fun. These are accessory capabilities that can be included alongside the prime ones to define a solid approach for calculating the development index.

The concept of human development actually ranges from Aristotle to Professor Adam Smith to modern-day economists. The core aspects of this concept connect the philosophy of these eminent economists and philosophers to define what human development is.

Prime Indicators of Human Development

The current human development index of India is 0.645 and is ranked 131 out of 189 countries. In order to explain human development properly and to understand how the index is calculated, we need to focus on the indicators first.

  1. Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of human beings during the Stone Age was 25-30 years. It has increased to 61 to 86 years in the modern days. Due to our evolution of new techniques of stabilizing civilizations, healthcare, nutrition, etc, our lifespan has increased considerably in a few thousand years.

  1. Infant Mortality Rate

It is calculated as the total number of infant deaths aged below 1 year against 1000 births. The mortality rate of India is 28.3 (2009-2019).

  1. Maternity Mortality Rate

This rate is calculated by dividing the total number of maternity deaths during childbirth by 1,00,000 childbirths. It is 154 in India in 2017.

  1. Literacy Rate

This rate suggests the percentage of literate individuals aged above 15. In India, it is more 86% for people aged 15 years and above in 2018. For the overall population, it is 74.4%

  1. Below Poverty Line Percentage

This poverty line is defined by the total consumption of calories every day. In the rural areas, it is 2400 and in the urban areas, it is 2100. People consuming calories lower than this are considered below the poverty line.

  1. Number of Schooling Years

The number of schooling years also defines an indicator of human development. It shows the average number of years an individual has accessed knowledge on an education platform.


This is all you need to know about human development and its indicators. There are specific mathematical representations that help economists to calculate this index and find out the development of human beings in a particular country. It also indicates the rate of development of the countrymen considering the previous years.

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FAQs on Human Development

1. Who introduced the concept of human development?

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, a Pakistani economist, first introduced this concept of human development by arguing and establishing the absurdity of GDP in calculating human development. This concept considers a list of indicators that GDP fails to incorporate and helps in understanding the current condition of countrymen.

2. What are the measures of human development?

There are three aspects that define the measures of human development. They are:

  • Standard of living

  • Healthy and long life

  •  Access to education

The measures depend on these three prime dimensions. The outcomes of calculations done with these dimensions and other indicators lead to the formation of a report that dictates the current human development index of a country.

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