GCSE Geography: Development - The Human Development Index

24th August 2017

GCSE Geography Revision - Made Easy!

Everything you need to know about The Human Development Index!


A country's social, infrastructural and political development can be both measured and influenced in different ways. Physical factors such as natural hazards or climate, and human factors such as the economy and social discontent, can influence how quickly or well a country develops. These factors can be measured by several methods. HDI, which we're covering here, GNI, which is a country's gross national income, and many more.


The Human Development Index (HDI) has been used by the United Nations (UN) since 1990 to rank the development of countries across the globe. The life expectancy of a citizen, the quality and length of education of children, and the wealth of the individual are all calculated into a ranking number from 0 to 1. Here's a little more information on each:


  • Life Expectancy/Health - The length of time a citizen is expected to live is a good indication of how healthcare and living standards are in a particular country. Should someone be expected to live 80+ years, their country of residence is likely to have top level healthcare staff, equipment, and a very high standard of living (clean water, safe food, good sanitation). Should someone be lucky to make 50 years old, the reverse is true.


  • Education - HDI measures the length of time a student is expected to attend schooling in a particular country, as well as its effectiveness in terms of the literacy rates mong those educated. Those countries with higher scores in both factors of education are much more likely to produce higher skilled workers that can support a country's infrastructure, create better living spaces, and keep a country running smoothly, efficently and safely.


  • Wealth - HDI measures the wealth of the whole country by its citizens' income. Other measurement scales, such as GNI, only measure the country's income as a whole. This can be misleading, as some countries like Saudi Arabia have huge amounts of wealth due to their proximity to natural resources like oil, but the wealth is held by an elite few and is not proportionately distributed, meaning the country as a whole is suffering in terms of a lack of development.


Here are some examples of the latest HDI rankings available (2015) that you can use in your exam. Select a high, medium and low example to use in the exam:


Key: Rank - Country - HDI Number (between 0-1).

  • 1 - Norway - 0.949
  • 4 - Germany - 0.926
  • 10 - USA - 0.920
  • 16 - UK - 0.909
  • 21 - France - 0.897
  • 27 - Spain - 0.884
  • 79 - Brazil - 0.754
  • 119 - South Africa - 0.666
  • 146 - Kenya - 0.555
  • 163 - Uganda - 0.493
  • 185 - Burkina Faso - 0.402
  • 188 (Lowest in 2015) - Central African Republic - 0.352
  • Unranked in 2015 - Somalia - 0.285 (2012 Rank)
  • Some countries have not been ranked with an official number for several years.


Make sure to check out our music video on "The Human Development Index", remember all the lryics to the track, and have a go at our test!


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