The United Nations (UN) has released its Human Development Index (HDI) Report for 2018. The report looks at long-term trends of human development driven by changes in health, education and income, and is based on a survey of 189 countries.
The overall trend globally is toward continued human development improvements, with many countries moving up through the human development categories: out of the 189 countries for which the HDI is calculated, 59 countries are today in the very high human development group and only 38 countries fall in the low HDI group. Just eight years ago in 2010, the figures were 46 and 49 countries respectively.
Gambia’s HDI value for 2017 is 0.460, which put the country in the low human development category and positioning it at 174 out of 189 countries and territories.1
While the HDI has improved by 38.20% between 1990 and 2017, the 2017 HDI of 0.460 is below the average of 0.504 for countries in the low human development group and below the average of 0.537 for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. From Sub-Saharan Africa, countries which are close to the Gambia in 2017 HDI rank and to some extent in population size are the Central African Republic and Lesotho, which have HDIs ranked 188 and 159 respectively
According to the report, Gambia’s life expectancy now stands at 61.40 years as of 2017 compared to 52.2 in 1990. This represents 9.2 years of life expectancy at birth. However, it is below the growth rate of SSA, which has seen a significant improvement in life expectancy by 11 years (from 49.7 years in 1990 to 60.7 years in 2017). The improvement in SSA can be attributed to declining HIV/AIDS rates, lower child mortality and improved nutrition.
According to the report, the global literacy rate lies above 82%. Regionally, Sub-Sahara Africa has the lowest rate at 59.9%. Small countries like Seychelles and Mauritius have the highest literacy rates in the SSA region, namely 94% and 93%, respectively while the Gambia has 42% adult literacy. In contrast, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, currently at a low 15.5%.
Gross National Income
The standard of living was measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita expressed in constant 2011 international dollars converted using purchasing power parity (PPP) conversion rates. The Gambia’s GNI per capita was $1,516 compared to the average capita of $2,521 for the low HDI countries and $3,399 for the SSA average.
As expected, SSA recorded the lowest GNI per capita among all regions with Seychelles having the highest GNI per capita of $26,077 and Mauritius recorded the second highest GNI per capita at $20,189.
Using Mauritius and Seychelles’ GNI capita and literacy rate, it can be concluded that there is a positive correlation between literacy rate and GNI capita. Nonetheless, researchers have shown that there exists a significant positive relationship between GDP per capita and literacy rate.
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