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How has Augmented Human Development been distributed across countries? Chapter 3 offers an answer. It presents long-run inequality trends for AHDI and its dimensions and examines gains across the distribution using growth incidence curves, in absolute and relative terms. Augmented human development inequality declined since 1900. In the long run, countries in the middle and lower deciles obtained larger relative gains over the last century. Over time, changes in the international distribution of augmented human development largely depended on the behaviour of schooling and civil and political liberties, even though life expectancy was inequality’s main driver until the 1920s since the uneven diffusion of new medical knowledge and technology and health practices in the early stages of the epidemiological transition provoked unequal life expectancy gains. The global spread of schooling and the diffusion of epidemiological transition made a substantial contribution to reducing AHD inequality between the 1920s and the early 1980s. The rise of authoritarian political regimes partly offset AHD inequality decline, since its dispersion only fell from the 1970s. These findings are at odds with the evolution of per capita income dispersion that increased until the late twentieth century and only fell since 1990. (198 words)
Chapter 1 addresses the challenge of moving from an abstract concept, human development, to an empirical measure, the AHDI. The chapter discusses the measurement of human development, examining each of its dimensions: access to knowledge, a healthy life, and other aspects of well-being leading to a meaningful life, and exploring the reduced forms of these dimensions used as proxies. Then, it proposes a new, augmented human development index that combines achievements in terms of health and education, and material welfare in a context of freedom of choice and, therefore, satisfies the capabilities approach. In order to allow for its bounded nature and quality improvements, the new AHDI, unlike the HDI, derives the proxies for health and education, namely, life expectancy at birth and years of schooling, as Kakwani indices that transform them non-linearly, so increases at higher level represent higher achievements than similar increases at a lower level. Moreover, the AHDI adds a crucial dimension, civil and political liberties, to proxy agency and freedom. As in the HDI, the four indices are combined using unweighted geometric average to obtain the AHDI, as all of them are considered indispensable.
Did augmented human development improve in Latin America since 1870, what drove it, and did the gap with the OECD widen? Chapter 5 addresses these questions. Latin America presents sustained AHD gains since the late nineteenth century, especially during the 1940s and 1950s and from 1970 onwards, the 1980s in particular. AHD advance was not restricted to phases of economic progress, i.e., the 1940–1980 phase of state-led growth, but extended to the globalisation backlash (1914–1950) and the ‘lost decade’ (1980s). Schooling, as a result of the diffusion of new ideas, nation-building, and urbanisation, and life expectancy, due to the spread of the epidemiological transition, drove AHD over the long run and accounted for catching up to the OECD until 1960, while civil and political liberties did so in the 1980s. The rise of life expectancy before drugs spread internationally since 1950 points to the diffusion of new medical knowledge that through hygienic practices and low-cost public health measures helped eradicating communicable diseases and played a major role in reducing infant and maternal mortality.
The purpose of this book is to provide an account of well-being in the context of modern economic growth and globalisation over the past one and a half centuries. It is inspired by Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach. Its central tenet, the enlargement of people’s choices, informs the concept of human development and its reduced form, the augmented human development index, on which the volume rests. A long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and command of resources to enjoy a meaningful life are human development dimensions, and their achievement represents for individuals a historical path to freedom.
In Chapter 2, trends in Augmented Human Development and its dimensions are presented and compared to those of GDP per head. Then, a breakdown of AHDI gains into their dimensions’ contribution is carried out, and some explanatory hypotheses proposed. Augmented human development improved significantly in the world since 1870, especially over 1913–1980, but significant room for improvement remains. Although AHDI and real per capita GDP exhibit similar progress over the long run, their pace does not match over the different phases of its evolution. Major gains in augmented human development were achieved across the board during the economic globalisation backlash of the first half of the twentieth century. AHD progress was driven by its non-income dimensions. Life expectancy at birth was the main contributor over time, even though its main contribution took place over 1920–1970, as the epidemiological transition diffused internationally. Schooling, mostly public, stimulated by new social views and nation-building, made a steady contribution over time, while civil and political liberties led AHD gains in the last two decades of the twentieth century as authoritarian regimes gave way to the expansion of liberal democracy.