The Human Development Index was launched in 1990 in an effort to look beyond GDP as a measure of well-being.
In terms of life expectancy, education and economic prosperity progress has stalled since the pandemic, a new UN report says. Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and the impact of climate change are blamed for putting global development in reverse.
Over the past two years, nine out of 10 countries have slid backwards on the Index. Setbacks in a majority of the 191 countries included in the index, especially in life expectancy, have taken development levels back to those seen in 2016, reversing a 30-year trend.
This year's index is based on data from 2021. "But the outlook for 2022 is grim," says Achim Steiner, one of its authors, who points out that more than 80 countries are facing problems paying off their national debt. Eighty countries being one step away from facing that kind of crisis is a very serious prospect," he says. "We are seeing deep disruptions, the tail end of which will play out over a number of years."
At the top of the index, this year is Switzerland with a life expectancy of 84 years, an average of 16.5 years spent in education and median salary of $66,000.
At the bottom is South Sudan where life expectancy is 55, people spend just 5.5 years in school on average and earn $768 a year.