Lithuania moves up in UN Human Development Report

DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

In the global listing of 187 nations, Lithuania ranks 35 according to the Human Development Index, placing itself in the top fourth of “very high human development” countries.

Among the Baltics, Lithuania ranks above Latvia, which is 48th, and a little below Estonia, 33. In last year’s report, Lithuania occupied the 41st position.

The Human Development Index (HDI), used by the UN to measure development across the globe, is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices.

At the top of the list are Norway, Australia and Switzerland.

Lithuania is also one of the 16 countries where HDI values for women are above those for men, contrary to the global trend.

Entitled “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience”, the Report, released in Tokyo last week by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Human Development Report Office Director Khalid Malik, provides a human development perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.

While Lithuania moved up in this year’s Report, globally, improvements in life spans, education and incomes are slowing due to natural disasters, misguided government policies and worsening inequality in a world where the 85 richest people have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people.

With nearly a third of humanity poor or vulnerable to poverty, governments need to put a higher priority on creating jobs and providing basic social services, the United Nations Development Program said in the report.

The new Gender Development Index (GDI), which for the first time measures the gender gap in human development achievements for 148 countries, reveals that in 16 of them (Argentina, Barbados, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay), female HDI values are equal or higher than those for males. For some of these countries, this may be attributed to higher female educational achievement; for others, to a significantly longer female life expectancy – over five years longer than that of males.

Worldwide, female HDI values are eight percent lower than those for males, with large variations between countries.

The UNDP report, published annually since 1990, is intended to inform and influence policy makers. Governments watch the rankings carefully, and “when they don’t do well they put a lot of pressure on us to change the rankings,” Malik said.

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