Human Development Index (HDI)
I have been showing the Gross Domestic Product per person (GDP) here because it can generally provide some indication of the level of development to be expected in each country. The GDP per person indicator can however be misleading. For example, the 5 highest GDP per person numbers were as follows in 1996: Luxembourg 34 155$, Brunei 30.447$, USA 26 396$, Switzerland 24 967$, and Hong Kong 22 310$. Brunei is second because of its high petroleum production but it is nevertheless an underdeveloped country, all the money goes to the Sultan and most of the people have stayed poor.
The obvious need for a more significant indicator has been filled since 1990 by the Human Development Index created by the UNDP (United Nation's Development Program). This sophisticated composite index takes into account the GDP/person but also other factors that contribute to what we call development, the life expectancy at birth, the level of school attendance and the percentage of people who can read and write. It makes sense, Brunei's rank of 38th on the HDI scale is certainly more representative of average the quality of life in that country than its second position on the GDP/p scale.
Finally, what is really meaningful to most people is not so much the actual numbers but the ranks occupied by the various countries on these two scales. I have therefore decided to present the GDP rank followed by the dollar number for each country and to add its rank on the Human Development Index followed by its score on a scale from 0 to 1000.
The table below shows how the countries judged by the UN to be the ten most developed are not those who have the highest GNP per person.
Please use your browser's back button to return to the previous page.