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22 Dec 2020

Belarus ranks 53rd on global human development index

Belarus ranks 53rd on global human development index
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MINSK, 22 December (BelTA) - Belarus ranks 53rd on the global human development index, according to the UNDP Human Development Report 2020, BelTA learned from the UNDP Office in Belarus.

The UNDP Office summed up Belarus’ rankings in the UNDP Human Development Report 2020 released last week. “Belarus’ human development index was 0.823 in 2019. The country ranks 53rd out of 189 countries, down three notches over 2018 (50th rank) but remains in the group of 66  very high human development countries,” the office said.

The report includes country statistics across three key indicators of human development: life expectancy, expected and mean years of schooling and gross national income in purchasing power parity per capita.

Belarus stats: 74.8 years in average life expectancy, 12.4 in mean years of schooling, and the gross national income in purchasing power parity per capita at $18,546.

Belarus maintains high positions in education. Although the expected years of schooling shrank from 15.6 in 2018 to 15.4 in 2019, th country is on a par with very high human development countries like Liechtenstein (14.9), Japan (15.2), and France (15.6).

The progress in increasing life expectancy at birth is equal to that of Russia and Kazakhstan. This indicator has been increasing by 0.2-0.3 years every year.

“The fact that the country has dropped from the 50th to 53rd position may be attributed to low and slow-growing gross national income (GNI) per capita estimated using the purchasing power parity (PPP) rate. Although Belarus’ gross national income per capita is higher than that of some countries of Europe and Central Asia ($17,939), it is significantly lower than in very high human development countries ($44,566). Belarus noticeably lags behind most of its neighbors: Russia ($26,157), Lithuania ($35,799), and Poland ($31,623),” the UNDP stressed.

With the gender inequality index in 2019 equal to 0.118, Belarus is ranked 31st among 162 countries. For comparison, Azerbaijan and Serbia hold 73rd and 35th places, respectively. In Belarus, women hold 34.9% of parliamentary seats; 87.2% of adult Belarusian women have at least secondary education.

“The gender development index in Belarus points to certain challenges. There is still a gap in gross income per capita between men ($22,721) and women ($14,911). There is a significant difference between the life expectancy of women (79.6 years) and men (69.7 years). Reducing the existing gender gaps may help Belarus to improve the human development index and move up in its group,” the report says.

For the first time, the UNDP has introduced a new experimental human development indicator, which, in addition to the three socioeconomic development indicators listed above, includes two more environmental elements. The volume of carbon dioxide emissions and the material footprint (the amount of natural resources used to produce goods and services) per capita reflect the degree of anthropogenic pressure on the environment.

According to the new factors, each Belarusian accounts for 0.4 tonnes of the state's total natural resources and 6.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions per capita. If we recalculate the human development index for the country taking into account the negative impact this development has on the environment, it will decrease by 5.1%.

“Data for other countries show that despite their efforts and progress, no country in the world has achieved conditions in which human development is high and the negative impact on the planet is low. The way out is to expand choices, support people through innovation, create a fair and equitable environment for development, and implement more effective models of interaction with the planet and nature,” the report concludes.

This document is based on the data of 2019 and does not take into account the crisis of 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The UNDP report “COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery” published in May 2020 mentioned that the human development index might decline worldwide. The report said that the pandemic will affect human development in the majority of countries, low-income and developed ones alike. The gross national income per capita is expected to drop by 4% globally.

The pandemic has affected education, gender equality, and small business the worst. According to the UNDP estimates, in low human development countries, 86% of elementary school students do not attend classes due to closed schools and poor access to online learning. In high human development countries, the out-of-school rate is 20%. The COVID-19 impact on women and girls has led to serious economic and social problems: a drop in earnings and savings, job insecurity, deterioration of reproductive health, an increase in unpaid care work and gender-based violence.

Due to these negative impacts, human development is facing an unprecedented hit worldwide since the introduction of the concept.

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