What is the Human Development Index? The Human Development Index, or HDI, is a metric compiled by the United Nations and used to quantify a country's "average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living." The HDI was first launched in 1990 and has been released annually ever since, except in 2012.
Human Development Index value is determined by combining a country's scores in a vast and wide-ranging assortment of indicators including life expectancy, literacy rate, rural populations' access to electricity, GDP per capita, exports and imports, homicide rate, multidimensional poverty index, income inequality, internet availability, and many more. These indicators are compiled into a single number between 0 and 1.0, with 1.0 being the highest possible human development. HDI is divided into four tiers: very high human development (0.8-1.0), high human development (0.7-0.79), medium human development (0.55-.70), and low human development (below 0.55).
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Human Development Index (HDI) - 2019
Most developed countries have an HDI score of 0.8 or above, landing them in the very high human development tier. These countries have stable governments, widespread affordable education and healthcare, high life expectancies, and growing, powerful economies. In contrast to this are the world's least developed countries (LDCs), which tend to have HDI scores below 0.55, in the "low human development" category. LDCs face unstable governments, widespread poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and poor education. Additionally, these countries have low income and low life expectancies, coupled with high birth rates. This illustrates the fundamental purpose of the HDI: to help the United Nations determine which countries (especially which least developed countries) need assistance.
Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Human Development Index (HDI) - 2019
- Niger - .394
- Central African Republic - .397
- Chad - .398
- Burundi - .433 (tie)
- South Sudan - .433 (tie)
- Mali - .434
- Burkina Faso - .452 (tie)
- Sierra Leone - .452 (tie)
- Mozambique - .456
- Eritrea - .459
For a full list of countries and their Human Development Index (HDI) 2019 ranking, see the table below.