Significant Inequalities across Indian States impact Human Development outcomes

Sep 15, 2011

New Delhi - A first- ever study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reveals that the performance of individual states in the Human Development Index (HDI) hides significant inequalities in attainment within states. The study computes an Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) for 19 states in India. The IHDI is computed adopting a methodology first used in the 2010 UNDP Global Human Development Report The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development. The Human Development Index (HDI) value is adjusted downwards after accounting for inequality in three dimensions -- income, education and health.

Globally, India is ranked 119 out of 169 countries on the HDI. However, it loses 30 percent of its value when adjusted for inequality. Similarly, amongst Indian states, Madhya Pradesh which is ranked 16 as per the HDI of Indian states ranks lowest when the IHDI for the same 19 states is computed, having lost 35 percent of its HDI value when adjusted for inequality. The study also finds that Kerala which tops the HDI is also the most equal in human development attainments – the state is ranked first both in the HDI and IHDI.  “We hope this new evidence on state level inequality will inform the design of the Twelfth Plan” says Patrice Coeur-Bizot, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, India. Further, findings reveal that educational outcomes are most unequal within states resulting in a loss of 43 percent to HDI values of states. This is a significantly higher loss than the global average of 28 percent. States also lose 34 percent of their HDI value when inequality in health outcomes is factored in. Again, Indian states suffer a higher loss when adjusted for inequality in health compared to the global average of 21 percent.

According to Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDP India, “Variations in IHDIs across India’s states reveal that inequality is negatively impacting human development attainments which makes inclusive and equitable growth a real need of the hour.” Lead author of th  study, M.H. Suryanarayana, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research says, “Policy in India has typically focused on growth with redistribution, a strategy aimed at poverty reduction and welfare gains through reducing inequality in income distribution. However, this study demonstrates the significant scope for realising such gains by reducing the extent of inequality in other dimensions of human development such as education and health

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Senior Advisor 
UNDP India - 9810079572 

Nandita Surendran 
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UNDP India - 9810084776

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