Human Development Index

The UNDP has just released its 2011 Human Development Report.

I hope we shall all be cheered up to see that Ireland has moved up the league table over the years and now ranks seventh in the world on their Human Development Index.

12 replies on “Human Development Index”

Based on 2005 PPP GDP. The US is fourth. What is going on with Occupy Wall St and the Tea Party if things are so rosy?


The measure of national income used is
‘2011 per capita Gross National Income in 2005 PPP$’

Well that throws a spanner in the whole 1% vs 99% arguments, we in Ireland and US are the 1% when compared to the rest of the world

I assume that Professor Walsh had his tongue in cheek when he said: ” I hope we shall all be cheered up…”. More likely that these figures will be the source of tremendous grief and disappointment for many people.

It looks as if improved health was one of the main contributors to Ireland’s improved ranking. On a very quick perusal of the UN figures, Ireland recorded the largest increase in life expectancy (7 years) of any European country (inside or outside the EU) between 1990 and 2011. In 1990 Ireland’s life expectancy was 1 year lower than in the UK, but by 2011 0.4 years higher; in 1990 Ireland’s life expectancy was 0.9 years lower than in Denmark, but by 2011 1.8 years higher; in 1990 Ireland’s life expectancy was 1 year lower than in Finland, but by 2011 0.6 years higher. Yet, we were told ad nauseum by the Dublin 4 media during this time that Ireland’s health service was third-world and on a par with Uganda, that the health of the country was going to hell in a handcart, while every Minister for Health in that time was demonised and vilified by the media. Shows that you can not believe a single word that the Dublin 4 media come up with.

@ JohntOp

I have no axes to grind here, but could one explanation for the improvement in life expectancy be a change in the structure of the population pyramid?

Average life expectancies are meta sample distributions which go on cohort-specific data. So having more young people weighs more heavily your LE improvement, if more recent cohorts have benefited from (non-country specific) improvement vis-a-vis previous generations, non?


I don’t think so.

But, I will defer to Professor Walsh if he says differently.

As I understand the methodology, the calculation of life expectancy is based on age-standardised mortality rates, so is independent of the age structure of the population.

In theory, Ireland’s calculated life expectancy could be artificially increased by the influx of people from Eastern Europe, if these were healthier and had lower mortality rates than beople born in Ireland. But, in practice, it is more likely to be the other way round, as the Eastern European countries all have have very low life expectancy and high mortality rates in comparison with Ireland, so, if anything, are likely to be making Ireland’s calculated life expectancy lower (just a little bit lower) than it would otherwise have been.


I had a quick look at wikipedia and I think you are right about the age independence of the thing. It was just a thought.


We were 5th last year, and 4th at the end of the boom. While it’s a little dissapointing that we’ve slipped a few places, it’s heartening that the decline is modest considering the economic collapse we have experienced since 2007. This suggests that Ireland has made real progress during its boom years which puts us in the very first rank of developed nations. Hopefully we will reclaim our 4th spot in the next few years as our economic growth picks up.

Yes thats positive new, there are many positives in Ireland, Undergrad level education fees being paid for as an example.

No idea what the health system in Uganda is but given the choice most people would prefer to have a bed in a hospital rather than a trolley

Given the dysfunctionalaity of the Irish Health system, it appears that life expectancy is only partially dependent of the health system – diet & physical environment (quality of housing) are factors that have improved over the past two decades. Not so sure about others like exercise & social structures which took a hammering.

I confess surprise to see Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, France, etc., all below Ireland in the ranking.

Observationally, and admittedly not scientifically, that seems wrong.

Is it possible that Ireland’s position is overstated – even now – because GDP and now GNI are used in the formula?

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