” To the dismay of the purist, but not to the development practitioner, it is difficult to give one precise meaning to the term economic development” G. M. Meier Though the progresses realized on the planet during the last half century are definitely undeniable, the enormous gap between the rich countries (or developed) and the poor countries (or underdeveloped) continues to be a player and one of the main characteristics of the world’s economy.
A recent report by the United Nations summarize the current difficulties of the economic world: there are approximately 800 million persons who continue to exist without the proper alimentation and around 34. 000 children die annually from famine and preventable illnesses. Approximately seventeen million individuals die this year alone from infectious and parasitic illnesses such as the diarrhoea, malaria and tuberculosis – illnesses that have already disappeared in rich countries; the fourth part of the world’s population, that is approximately 1.
300 million individuals continue to live in absolute poverty, without covering the basic needs such as drinkable water, shelter and health care; there are 35 millions of displeased or sheltered; eighty percent of the world’s AIDS community lives in Third World countries ; the environmental situation is catastrophic in many regions of the planet which includes desertification concerns zones in where 850 million individuals live and every second human deforestation covers an extension equivalent to the surface of football field .
The tough reality of underdevelopment is however way more complex than the frightening numbers these documents indicate. . It is well known that more than three fourths of the world’s population live in third World countries and it reaches an staggering 85% if one were to include the nations from the ex soviet block and central and eastern Europe. This information might serve us to initiate us in the complex topic of underdevelopment and to those features that will try to explain it works.
It is important to mention that words as broad as development or underdevelopment need to be measured and defined on a way that they help us out to demonstrate the real differences between rich and poor countries. It is difficult to trim down the current situation of the world to simple numbers, however, measurements such as income per capita or the Human Development Index can help us draw a broad picture of the situation.
Income per capita comes from dividing national income by the entire population. This number would only reflect reality if the revenue were distributed equally between the entire population, but it is never like that and even less on underdeveloped countries. Thus, since the vast majority is the one that has income lower than the average statistics, the result is that this majority lives worse than what such an average reflects.
In addition to this only economic indicator and unable to there offer us a more true image of the reality the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) proposes not only one indicator, but a set of them that try to quantify such a level of development understood as the enlargement of the options which the human being has. The Human Development Index will report the following indicators: life expectancy, revenue per capita exact, valuation of adults’ literacy and valuation of registration in the different academic levels.
It is evident that the indicators that integrate the Human Development Index still need to be re-defined and to these some others have to be added. However the HDI represents the answer to a simplistic vision of measuring the levels of development according to economic indicators, which are also used by institutions that guide themselves by a classic conception of the Development such as World Bank; FMI… The values of the IDH are understood in a scale between 0 and 1, and they are obtained as simple average of three indicators.