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The real wealth of nations: pathways to human development


  • Complete report 
  • Cover 
  • Foreword, Acknowledgments and Contents 
  • Overview

    “People are the real wealth of a nation.” With these words the 1990 Human Development Report (HDR) began a forceful case for a new approach to thinking about development. That the objective of development should be to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives may appear self-evident today. But that has not always been the case. A central objective of the HDR for the past 20 years has been to emphasize that development is primarily and fundamentally about people.
    This year’s Report celebrates the contributions of the human development approach, which is as relevant as ever to making sense of our changing world and finding ways to improve people’s well-being. Indeed, human development is an evolving idea—not a fixed, static set of precepts—and as the world changes, analytical tools and concepts evolve. So this Report is also about how the human development approach can adjust to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

  • Chapter 1 - Reaffirming human development

    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Human Development Report (HDR) in 1990. It is worth recalling the broader context. The Berlin Wall was crumbling, and the Soviet Union would soon dissolve. The apartheid regime in South Africa had just released Nelson Mandela from prison. Iraq was about to invade Kuwait. Augusto Pinochet had left power in Chile, replaced by a new democratic regime. The Sandinistas were voted out of office in Nicaragua. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party won Myanmar’s national elections. Students were demonstrating for political reform in Beijing. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges opened. Margaret Thatcher had ruled the United Kingdom for more than a decade. The term “Washington Consensus” had just been coined.
    In this climate the first HDR stood out, calling with eloquence and humanity for a different approach to economics and to development. These calls have continued to resonate around the world and have gained renewed prominence with recent investigations into measuring people’s well-being and remarkable advances in data and knowledge. Box 1.1 traces these recent calls back to earlier decades and introduces Mahbub ul Haq, the visionary Pakistani economist who pioneered the HDR.

  • Chapter 2 - The advance of people 
  • Chapter 3 - Diverse paths to progress
  • Chapter 4 - Good things don’t always come together
  • Chapter 5 - Innovations in measuring inequality and poverty 
  • Chapter 6 - The agenda beyond 2010 
  • Notes and Bibliography
  • Readers guide 
  • Human development statistical tables
  • Technical notes
  • Errata 

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Statistics of the Human Development Reports

You can access statistical data from the Human Development Report (HDR) and resources to help you better understand this data. You will also find helpful information about the human development index (HDI) and other indices, links to other background materials, data resources and on-going debates and discussions on human development statistics
Human Development statistical tools

Explore the world through  animations and various online tools that transform the data behind the concept of Human Development into intuitive visual presentations. HDI calculators, animated graphs and a statistical tables building application are  available

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