By Nicholas Schmidt
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistical tool used to measure the social and economic dimensions of a nation or region. The three key measures used in the HDI are life expectancy, access to education (years of schooling), and standard of living – measured by gross national income per capita, adjusted for the price level of the country.
The HDI was developed in 1990 by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq. The measure provided an alternative to the standard classification of development of countries, which often only considered the economic aspect of a nation’s development. Since the HDI includes the addition of primary social factors, a better picture is provided of a country’s development. Moreover, the HDI emphasizes the importance of individuals and their potential.
The map of the world above shows a subnational HDI – displaying states and regions within countries – with the higher-ranking areas depicted in shades of blue and the lower-ranking areas displayed in shades of red and orange. The advantage of viewing the index on a subnational scale as opposed to the traditional national scale is that more detail is able to be seen. On a subnational scale, it can be seen that southwestern Argentina and northern Chile are at a higher standing than the rest of South America – insight that would be absent on a national scale map.