NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.N. Development Report Notes Progress In Living Standards

July 13, 1999

For 10 years, the United Nations has been issuing a report which ranks countries not only according to per capita income, but also life expectancy, school attendance, adult literacy and poverty levels. This year, Canada -- as it has for six years in a row -- topped the list, with Norway ranking second and the U.S. third.

Here are some other conclusions in the U.N. Human Development Report:

  • Over the past two decades, life expectancy in Third World countries increased from 53 to 62 years; adult literacy rose from 48 percent to 76 percent; and under-5 mortality fell from 149 per 1,000 live births to 85.
  • Between 1975 and 1990, human development improved in every country.
  • The world has grown more prosperous, more people are moving up and the bottom rung of serious deprivation has shrunk from 20 percent to 10 percent of the world's population over the past 50 years.
  • Nevertheless, the report's authors expressed mixed feelings about markets, the Internet and the effects of globalization.

"Markets have brought dislocation and heartache as well as remarkable advances," says the administrator of the U.N. Development Program, which issued the report. The authors were critical of the fact that the voices and concerns of the world's poor, lacking access to the Internet, "are being left out of the global conversation."

Source: Leo Rennert (McClatchy Newspapers), "Globalization Widens the Gap in Living Standards, U.N. Says," Washington Times, July 12, 1999.


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