MONEY isn’t everything. That’s the idea behind the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
It incorporates measures for income, life expectancy and education into a single development score, which is designed to give a holistic sense of how a country is doing. The latest report is published today, providing a good opportunity to chart progress over the past 25 years. Rwanda has made the most progress, which is all the more impressive given that its level of development fell during the genocide of 1994. Rwandans can now expect to live almost 32 years longer than in 1990, and spend twice as long at school. China comes in at number two. Its score today is roughly what South Korea’s was in 1990. Happily, all 142 countries with complete data (for a few places, such as Ethiopia and Somalia, some data are missing) are more developed than they were a quarter of a century ago, except unlucky Swaziland, which has been devastated by AIDS.