UNDP: Human Development Report


Semra Hailelul
Alex Iyasu
Vitali Tcherniak
Markus Urek

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Human Development is a development paradigm that is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value.  Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities -the range of things that people can do or be in life. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.

Beginning in 1990, the human development concept was applied to a systematic study of global themes, as published in the annual global Human Development Reports (HDR) under the auspice of UNDP. Since the launch of the first global HDR and introduction of he Human Development Index (HDI), innovation in the measurement and analysis of human development has also been expanded through the research and advocacy work of over 600 regional, national and sub‐national Human Development Report teams in over 130 countries. Like the global HDR, these nationally owned and participatory report processes often generate tremendous debate among policy‐makers, the academia, civil society and the general public on ways to measure and further human development. Many reports adapt the HDI and other HD indices to address specific national development needs, often also disaggregating the HDI and other data down to the regional and municipal level.

Although it is hard to quantify the impact of these HDRs on policy and on efforts to measure human progress, their influence is extensive. The HDRs are widely disseminated and accessed electronically. The most recent global HDR 2007‐08 and its statistics, available in twelve languages, has been downloaded over 400,000 times, more than any other UN development report. The global HDRs have been cited in over 380 articles published in peer‐reviewed journals.1 There have been over 8,000 news articles published on the HDI and other HD indices since 1990. Academic courses and training are being delivered to a new generation of researchers and policy‐makers on the HDI and other HD topics in over twenty countries.2

Human Development Report 2010

The year 2010, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the global HDR, provides an opportunity to review its contributions to development thinking and assess impacts on policy and practice. That report will also be used to examine current human development challenges with a view to expanding the human development concept to incorporate some broader aspects of ‘development as freedoms and enlargement of choices’.

1 Numbers are based on citation data collected by the Google Scholar search engine – by comparison, the World Development Reports were cited about 300 times over the same period.
See list of ongoing academic courses and training on HDI and other HD topics athttp://hdr.undp.org/en/nhdr/training/materials/

Project Objective

The New School Practicum will conduct a critical review of the literature related with the Human Development indices and a selection of global composite indices from major development institutions. The review will assess the additional value of proposed alternatives in supporting development policies and programmes.

Specific objectives, outcomes

The project will:
– Propose a methodology to assess the main arguments that allow a comparison between Human Development indices and alternatives proposed in the literature evidenced by:

  • National and regional human development reports;
  • Citations in peer‐reviewed articles, dissertations and other academic publications;
  • etc.

– Collect, review and conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis of this evidence organized by various conceptual, thematic and statistical aspects of the HD approach and HDRs.
– Prepare as a final output, a comprehensive data‐base of material reviewed and analytical report (around 20‐30 pages length) with a synthesis and main findings of the assessment.
– Present the findings of the report at an interactive discussion forum at HDRO.
Interaction between HDRO and students

HDRO will meet with the Practicum participants at the initial stage of the project to discuss objectives,methodology options, final outputs, and overall expectations. As needed, additional meetings will be organized throughout to discuss progress made and more detailed project issues.


  • Experience in quantitative and qualitative analysis, including strong Excel and/or other data‐bases and management software skills;
  • Strong research skills;
  • Knowledge of current development trends and socio‐economic development topics;
  • Strong writing and analytical skills;

• Proficiency in one or more of the following languages: French, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Spanish.