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Jamaica’s human development index ranking expected to improve with economic growth

Published:Tuesday | December 15, 2015 | 12:09 AM

Even though the Human Development Report released yesterday indicates that Jamaica continues to fall in the Human Development Index (HDI), financial analyst Ralston Hyman is of the view that this trend will be reversed once economic growth is sustained.

Jamaica fell three places in the ranking put out by the United Nations Development Programme.

The country last year recorded a fall of 11 places and was ranked 96th. This year, Jamaica was ranked 99th out of 188 countries on the HDI.

The human development index measures the quality of life using statistics drawn from life expectancy, education levels and incomes. The index categorises 188 countries in four categories - very high human development, high human development, medium human development and low human development. Despite the fall, Jamaica continues to be ranked as a country with high human development.

The continued decline in Jamaica's ranking in the HDI can be viewed against the improvements in the macroeconomic indicators and the increased performance under the economic reform programme. It is expected that the a country's HDI should increase with improvements in the economy.

Declining since 2011

Jamaica's HDI value has been on a steady decline since 2011. The HDI figures between 2011 and 2014 are 0.727, 0.723, 0.717 and 0.719 for each respective year.

A breakdown of the data used to calculate the HDI shows annual increases in life expectancy and education levels, but this is not the trend for incomes.

According to Hyman, the five per cent decline of the Jamaican economy between 2007 and 2011 continues to be reflected in the gross national income (GNI) per capita. Hyman explained that a downward movement in the GNI per capita will result in a decline in the HDI given that the other indicators, life expectancy and education levels, have largely remained constant and experience only marginal increase annually.

"While we see the life expectancy increasing, we see we have more people in terms of certification ... . The problem with the per-capita GNI is that the economy declined by five per cent for the four-year period 2007-2011 ... so with the improvements in the economy, we expect these indicators to reverse in the northward direction because growth is accelerated in the economy," he said.

Richard Byles, chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, had previously expressed concern that the economic and social pressures being felt by citizens were not in sync with the favourable economic environment.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com