GIRI: The Human Development Index and Ethno-Racial Disparities

The Human Development Index (HDI), developed in 1990, is a composite measure of life expectancy, education, and income that is used to rank and compare countries in terms of the well-being of their inhabitants. HDI is premised on the belief that development is much more than economic growth, and that the well-being and capabilities of people should weigh heavily in assessing the development of a country. This seminar will examine the underlying theories, justifications, and assumptions of HDI and critically assess its usefulness as a tool for measuring inequality. While the original Human Development Index has been modified to consider gender disparities, notwithstanding both theoretical and empirically based arguments for its necessity, no official index has been developed that considers ethnic and racial inequality as key factors in assessing the quality of life offered within a particular society. The seminar provides a conceptual framework with which to understand and uncover the consequences of this omission, and will attempt to the lay the groundwork for an improved human development index that takes into account ethno-racial intergroup disparities. It also illustrates the application of this perspective to gain a critical understanding of global inequality.