How Robust is the Human Development Index?

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Working Paper

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The United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index (HDI) has become a standard international measure of development. However, it has been criticized on several grounds. This paper investigates how robust the HDI is to changing two contentious aspects: the component statistics and the weighting scheme. An alternative index is computed using four times as many component statistics (and only life expectancy in common) and principal components to determine weights. The results are that the alternative index is very closely correlated with the HDI, suggesting the HDI is robust to alternative specifications. However, some advantages of the alternative methodology are detailed.

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