Human Development (humanity)

Human Development (humanity)

Human development is a concept within the scope of the study of the human condition, specifically international development, relating to international and economic development. This concept of a broader human development was first laid out by Amartya Sen, a 1998 Nobel laureate, and expanded upon by Martha Nussbaum, Sabina Alkire, Ingrid Robeyns, and others. Human development encompasses more than just the rise or fall of national incomes. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have, to lead lives that they value, and improving the human condition so that people have the chance to lead full lives. Thus, human development is about much more than economic growth, which is only a means of enlarging people’s choices.

Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities —the range of things that people can do or be in life. Capabilities are "the substantive freedoms enjoys to lead the kind of life reason to value." Human development disperses the concentration of the distribution of goods and services that underprivileged people need and center its ideas on human decisions. By investing in people, we enable growth and empower people to pursue many different life paths, thus developing human capabilities. The most basic capabilities for human development are: to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable (e.g., to be educated), to have access to the resources and social services needed for a decent standard of living, and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.

One measure of human development is the Human Development Index (HDI), formulated by the United Nations Development Programme. The index encompasses statistics such as life expectancy at birth, an education index (calculated using mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling), and gross national income per capita. Though this index does not capture every aspect that contributes to human capability, it is a standardized way of quantifying human capability across nations and communities. Aspects that could be left out of the calculations include incomes that are unable to be quantified, such as staying home to raise children or bartering goods/services, as well as individuals' perceptions of their own well being. Other measures of human development include the Human Poverty Index (HPI) and the Global Empowerment Measure.

An abstract illustration of human capability is a bicycle. A bicycle itself is a resource- a mode of transportation. If the person who owns the bicycle is unable to ride it (due to a lack of balance or knowledge), the bicycle is useless to that person as transportation and loses its functioning. If, however, a person both owns a bicycle and has the ability to ride a bicycle, they now have the capability of riding to a friend's house, a local store, or a great number of other places. This capability would (presumably) increase their value of life and expand their choices. A person, therefore, needs both the resources and the ability to use them in order to pursue their capabilities. This is one example of how different resources and/or skills can contribute to human capability.

There are six basic pillars of human development: equity, sustainability, productivity, empowerment, cooperation and security.

  • Equity is the idea of fairness for every person, between men and women; we each have the right to an education and health care.
  • Sustainability is the view that we all have the right to earn a living that can sustain our lives and have access to a more even distribution of goods.
  • Productivity states the full participation of people in the process of income generation. This also means that the government needs more efficient social programs for its people.
  • Empowerment is the freedom of the people to influence development and decisions that affect their lives.
  • Cooperation stipulates participation and belonging to communities and groups as a means of mutual enrichment and a source of social meaning.
  • Security offers people development opportunities freely and safely with confidence that they will not disappear suddenly in the future.

This way of looking at development, often forgotten in the immediate concern with accumulating commodities and financial wealth, is not new. Philosophers, economists and political leaders have long emphasized human well being as the purpose, or the end, of development. As Aristotle said in ancient Greece, "Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else."

Developed countries are seen as those who have a continuous progress in the indexes of life. The countries that have seemed to excel are viewed as having better policies than those who have remained stagnant.

Read more about Human Development (humanity):  Human Rights and Human Development, Challenges To Human Development, Health and Human Development, Human Development Report, Human Development Index, Human Poverty Index, United Nations Millennium Development Goals

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