Human Development Index

A scale from zero to 1 ranking countries in terms of the quality of life of its people, particularly the poorest. The index is computed from

Originally developed by Mahbub ul-Haq, the index has been used since 1993 by the United Nations Human Development Program, which issues an annual report.  Because of continual improvements in the statistical measures used to determine the score, comparisons of scores or ranks from reports in different years is problematical, if suggestive.  The  rank of  countries has been by far the most popularized use of the index, but the scores themselves are actually much more revealing, as the examples below demonstrate.

Some examples (for 1999, from the 2001 report):

Top Ten
Rank Country Score
1 Norway 0.939
2 Australia 0.936
3 Canada 0.936
4 Sweden 0.936
5 Belgium 0.935
6 United States 0.934
7 Iceland 0.932
8 Netherlands 0.931
9 Japan 0.928
10 Finland 0.925
Bottom Ten
Rank Country Score
153 Mali 0.378
154 Central African Republic 0.372
155 Chad 0.359
156 Guinea-Bissau 0.339
157 Mozambique 0.323
158 Ethiopia 0.321
159 Burkina Faso 0.320
160 Burundi 0.309
161 Niger 0.274
162 Sierra Leone 0.258

Please consult one of the sources in Resources for the most current scores.


The complete annual Human Development Report, which contains the human development index scores and an explanation of the methodology, is made available as a pdf file each year at the web site:

The printed version in English of the Human Development Report is published by the Oxford University Press.

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