Human Development

Human Development as an
alternative paradigm
Conceptual Foundations
GCC Regional Workshop on Human Development
9-11 May 2011– Doha, Qatar
Overview of presentation
• Changing strategies in development
• The emergence of the human
development paradigm
• Human development re-affirmed and
the way forward
The logic of changing strategies
Advanced country
Development thinking when countries
gained independence
• Major emphasis on economic growth (Rostow;
Lewis; Hirschman).
• Using ‘surplus’ labour. (Nurkse; Lewis)
• On industrialisation and raising investment as
mechanisms. (Mahalanobis; Rosenstein-Rodan)
• In parallel, emphasis on costs of dependence
(Prebish/Singer; Frank; Amin; Sunkel).
• General neglect of ‘human’ dimension – thought it
would be looked after automatically through
But challenge to growth followed
• Rising unemployment; high underemployment
• Poverty still high and increasing in absolute terms
• Dependency remained – finance, technology,
• Growth of GNP neglects income distribution, public
goods, employment – all essential for improving quality of
The ILO ' has become increasingly evident, particularly
from the experience of the developing countries, that
rapid growth at the national level does not automatically
reduce poverty or inequality or provide sufficient
productive employment' (ILO, 1976, Employment, Growth
and Basic Needs: A One-World Problem, p 15)
Defects of focus on money incomes.
• Income distribution critically important
• Neglects public goods (and externalities more
• Assumes utilitarian philosophy. Money income
measures utility. Utility should be maximised.
• ‘Physical condition neglect’. Entrenched
deprivation can become acceptable.
• Is consequentialist. Neglects agency goals (how
you get there – e.g. child labour).
• Assumes people only consider OWN welfare.
Succession of challenges to growth only
agenda from 1970s
• ‘Dethronement’ of GNP (Seers)
• Employment objective emphasised: ILO missions
to Colombia, Sri Lanka – led by Seers.
• Redistribution with growth (Chenery, Singer and
• Basic needs (ILO, WB, Ghai, Streeten, Ranis,
• Capabilities (Sen)
• Human Development
Human well-being goes beyond money
1. Basic needs approach:
Poor need certain basic goods and services (BN).
Income a means. But doesn’t provide public goods. And
effectiveness of incomes of households depends on
household distribution. Hence BN.
But how to identify what poor need?
True objective is not consumption of goods and
services (commodity fetishism – Sen), but to lead a
decent life (DL).
Metaproduction function of BN approach, translates BN
goods and services into quality of life.
E.g. DL = f(a, b, c d….), or
Decent life depends on consumption of food, health
services, shelter….
2. Sen and capabilities
• Goal of development is to enhance people’s potential to
be and do.
• Potential beings and doings are capabilities [but only
things ‘people have reason to value’]
• Actual beings and doings are functionings.
• Incomes an important means but capabilities go well
beyond incomes.
• Freedom to choose critical in this approach– hence
capabilities not functionings.
• Big emphasis on personal characteristics in translation
from resources to functionings.
• Approach relevant to rich as well as poor countries, rich
as well as poor people – big advantage compared with
The international agenda, historically
• BN dominant end 1970s – ILO and Macnamara
at WB. (Mahbub ul Haq prominent)
• Displaced by debt crisis, and adjustment.
• Increased role of market; liberalisation
• Growth and poverty displaced.
• Rising poverty in the 1980s – led to reemphasis
on poverty
• UNICEF, Adjustment with a Human Face, 1987.
• 1990 first Human Development Report.(and
Poverty Report of World Bank)
• 2000: MDGs
1990 HDR on “Human Development”
Inspired by Sen’s work on capabilities and the idea of development as freedom,
1990 HDR introduced and defined the concept as follows:
“Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices.
The most critical ones are to lead a long and healthy life, to be
educated and to enjoy a decent standard of living. Additional
choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights
and self-respect….
The term … denotes both the process of widening people’s
choices and the level of their achieved well-being.”
Over time, “enlarging people’s choices” became the most commonly used
Based on data and techniques available in 1990, the measurement of HD (HDI)
centred on long healthy lives, educational levels and living standard
Some key aspects of HD
Humans are ends not means
Incomes are means not end.
In practice major focus is on BN type goods and
services, but also discusses other issues (freedom,
democracy, gender, environment, communities, culture)
– it is open ended. Considers topics relevant to more
developed countries. All issues brought in which may
affect human beings’ potential.
Freedom to choose given priority – I.e. HD concerns
widening human choices.
Yet accepts that humans are an important resource too
as well as being the objective of development.
Relationship between HD and economic
Diverse and ambitious themes since 1990
Global HDR launched in 1990, published annually
since then, complemented and enriched by over
700 regional, national and sub-national HDRs
1. Concept and Measurement
2. Financing
3. Global Dimensions
4. People’s Participation
5. Human Security
6. Gender
7. Economic Growth
8. Poverty
9. Consumption
10. Globalization
11. Human Rights
12. New technologies
13. Democracy
14. MDGs
15. Cultural Liberty
16. Aid, trade and security
17. Water
18. Climate Change
19. Human Mobility
20. Pathways to Human
21. (Sustainability and Equity)
2010: HD reaffirmed
"Human development is the expansion
of people’s freedoms to live long,
healthy and creative lives; to advance
other goals they have reason to value;
and to engage actively in shaping
development equitably and
sustainably on a shared planet.
People are both the beneficiaries and
drivers of human development, as
individuals and in groups.”
2010: HD reaffirmed
Three components:
• Well-being: expanding people’s real
freedoms so that people can fluorish
• Empowerment and agency: enable people
and groups to act – to drive valuable
• Justice: expanding equity, sustaining
outcomes overt time and respecting
human rights and other goals of society
HD: The unfinished agenda
• HD has too much been identified with HDI.
• Beyond the HDI (health, education, income),
exploring other measures of progress.
• Many approaches used to define good life:
– e.g. Rawls: ‘deliberative rationality’ in defining primary goods:
‘with careful consideration of relevant facts..and consequences’.
– Finnis: practical reasoning ‘critical reflection about the planning of
one’s life (Nussbaum).
– Doyal and Gough (basic needs):avoidance of serious harm,
where harm prevents people realising their plan of life).
– Nussbaum, follows Rawls, ‘overlapping consensus’
– Consultation: Voices of the poor; quality of life consultation by
WED research group.
• N.B. ‘list’ approach famously avoided by Sen:
process is ‘democratic consensus’.
HD: The unfinished agenda
Major priorities
• Explore ways in which people can consider, and
agree on defining and prioritising alternative
• Integrate with environmental framework.
• Analyse underlying political conditions and
strategies for promoting HD.
• Push forward with revising measures of progress
at macro-level in rich and poor countries.
• Evaluate progress at micro-level with HD
• HD represents an important alternative
paradigm to the economic/market
paradigm generally adopted by World
• Interpretation of HD is very wide: it relates
to all features of society that promote
human flourishing, or prevent it.
• New aspects still being developed 15 years
after report started.
• Human development goes well beyond the

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