Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 220
In contrast to UNDP's wildly successful Human Development Index (HDI), UNDP's gender-related indices have had a rather rocky history. To this day, the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) has not produced a measure that has met the requirements of policy-makers, academics and development practitioners for a transparent, clear, well-measured internationally comparable index that can be used to compare countries across the world with regard to the extent of gender inequalities in human development-related dimensions. As a result, this void left by HDRO has been filled by many other indices of gender-related development that compare and rank countries. In this paper I will first briefly review the history of UNDP's gender-related indicators, discuss the Gender Inequality Index (GII), its most recent incarnation, in some more detail, briefly review other existing measures, before making concrete proposals for gender-related development measures that HDRO might want to consider. I will argue that the GII unfortunately has so many conceptual and empirical weaknesses and is far too complex a measure that it cannot really be considered an improvement over the problems associated with the previous two gender-related measures, the Gender-Related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). I therefore propose that a better way forward would be a reformed GDI and GEM and I make specific proposals for indicators and illustrate the results of these proposals for levels and rankings of countries. Lastly, I will briefly present and discuss the new Gender Development Index created by the HDRO in the 2014 Human Development Report which is partly related to some of the recommendations made in this paper.
gender inequality human development UNDP composite indices