25 Years of Human Development Thinking

HDialogue: 25th Anniversary Special Articles

How has Human Development contributed and influenced the international debate? What are the challenges ahead? Development leaders reflect on these issues in a special series of the HDialogue blog.

Selim Jahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office

A concept is always broader than any of its proposed measures. Any suggested measure for any concept cannot fully capture the richness, the breadth and the depth of the concept itself. This is true of the notion of human development as well. In principle human choices can be infinite and change over time.

Leading Commentators on Human Development

Over the last 25 years, Heads of States and Government, Nobel Laureates and others have contributed to the Human Development Reports. Here you have some of their insights and ideas.

Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics

Almost half a century ago, the philosopher Thomas Nagel published a famous paper called “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” The question I want to ask is: what is it like to be a human being? As it happens, Tom Nagel’s insightful paper in The Philosophical Review was also really about human beings, and only marginally about bats.

Visualizing 25 Years of Human Development

Human Development Reports have been pioneers in measuring and visualizing human progress. This section displays some influential graphs and visualization that have contributed to advance new ideas.

The 2010 Report was the first to rigorously review longer-term human development trends—looking back at Human Development Index (HDI) indicators for most countries from 1970. Developing countries had made a dramatic progress in health, education and basic living standards in those three decades, with many of the poorest countries posting the greatest gains.