Development Challenges Index: statistical measurement and validity - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

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Development Challenges Index: statistical measurement and validity

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL6.GCP/2021/TP.11


Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Reports & studies

Cluster: Governance and Conflict Prevention

Focus Area: Inclusive development

Initiatives: Partnerships for Agenda 2030, Governance and institution building

SDGs: Agenda 2030

Keywords: Health, Income, Governance, Environment, Human development

Development Challenges Index: statistical measurement and validity

February 2022

This paper introduces the Development Challenges Index (DCI). This index is a comprehensive measure of development that takes into account the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the components of the Human Development Index (health, education and income), environmental sustainability and good governance. The DCI serves as a tool to track developmental challenges and help policymakers assess their national policies.

The adjustment of the components of the HDI components by quality and the inclusion of two additional dimensions to measure development are justified conceptually. Previously, the focus on quantitative aspects was justified due to the presence of profound quantitative shortfalls in human development. However, countries have moved up the ladder of human development and made major progress in closing these gaps; today, the issue of quality is more important. Additionally, the environmental threats that the world is facing pose a serious challenge to social and economic well-being, since environmental sustainability is an essential element of human development. Lastly, freedom of agency, which is important on its own and as an instrument to enhance well-being, is linked to freedom of expression, democratic space and participation, which cannot be ensured without good governance and institutions.

The index is computed for 163 countries at three points in time: 2000, 2010 and 2019. After making the conceptual case for the index, this paper describes in detail the indicators that comprise the index, the aggregation methodology and the results of the robustness and sensitivity analyses.

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