Laos makes substantial progress in human development: NERI Report

March 22, 2013

Laos has made substantial progress in its human development over the past almost three decades, making the country one of the human development index (HDI) growth leaders in the medium human development category, a report issued yesterday revealed.

The significant gains made in economic growth and social welfare over recent years have paved the way for continued improvement in human development in Laos, according to the global 2013 Human Development Report revealed at yesterday’s launching ceremony in Vientiane.

Between 1985 and 2012, substantial progress has been made in the main HDI indicators. Life expectancy increased by 19 years, the average number of years of schooling increased by 2.5, and Gross National Income per capita increased by about 178 percent.

“Consequently, Laos has seen steady improvement in its HDI value over time, making the country one of the HDI growth leaders in the medium human development category, where it currently sits,” the report said.

The National Economic Research Institute organised the launch of the report entitled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Overall, the HDI of Laos stood at 0.543 in the 2012 Human Development Report which positioned the country at 138 out of 187 countries and territories in the world. However, when discounted for inequality, the HDI value for Laos falls to 0.409, a loss of about 25 percent.

“Our analysis confirms a message found in every Human Development Report: economic growth does not automatically translate into human development. Significant investments in people, in education and skills as well as in nutrition and health, are vital,” said UNDP Resident Representative Mr Minh Pham.

The report examines the fast-changing world and the implications for human development at the global level.

The report projects that by 2030, more than 80 percent of the world’s middle class will reside in the South, and that the Asia-Pacific region will be home to about two-thirds of the new global middle class.

By 2020, the report projects, the combined output of the three leading economies – China, India, Brazil – will surpass the aggregate production of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.

The 2013 report identifies more than 40 developing countries with human development gains that significantly outpaced global norms in recent decades.

However, it warns that failure to address persistent inequalities, and a lack of opportunities for meaningful civic participation, could threaten this progress unless leaders take bold corrective actions. Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress in the world’s poorest countries and communities.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, believes the report contains valuable information about the nature of and challenges for human development that will be an important reference for all parties involved in development planning and policy making.

The HDI is calculated by taking into account the combined indicators of life expectancy, education and income. It covers both social and economic development.

The global Human Development Reports are published annually with National Human Development Reports produced every four years. Since 1998, Laos has published four national reports.

The next one is due in 2014 and will focus on achieving the MDGs as a vital element of both Least Developed Country graduation and in reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities across communities in all regions of the country.

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