Inequality and the Human Development Index

Each year, the UN releases its Human Development Report, which looks at the overall progress of nations as measured by one statistic called the Human Development Index. This single statistic is made up of three primary components — life expectancy, education and income. This visualization shows you each country's HDI rank along the x-axis while the y-axis shows the impact on each country's HDI when the inequality within that country is factored in - what's called the Inequality-Adjusted HDI. You can filter to look at countries by region or by the four levels of HDI. And you can see this inequality impact either as a percentage change in HDI or by the impact that change has on a country's ranking.


The UN breaks out the regions in its HDI Report differently from how it handles regions in many of its other publications, categorizing all countries in six regions as noted by the color coding and filterable by the buttons above the visualization. You'll note one extra category called "Developed", which contains the countries that aren't categorized in the report, which are those they designate as "developed" countries rather than "developing" countries.

All of the HDI data for this visualization comes from the United Nations Development Programme, the publishers of the Human Development Report. You can download the report and its data here. Country populations came from the World Bank.

The inequality-adjusted Human Development Index is a way of measuring the impact of inequality in a country and the role it plays on its human development. Percentage change shows how much the country's HDI score changes when inequality is considered. By looking at rank change, rather than percentage change, the changes are more apparent in the more developed countries. For instance, the United States' IHDI is 17.4% lower than its HDI, yet it drops 23 places in ranking. Sierra Leone's IHDI is 44.3% lower than its HDI, yet this massive difference only accounts for a 3-place rank drop. (In other words, the richer countries have much less inequality overall and therefore, it really stands out when countries like the US and South Korea have such drops in rank due to inequality.) The UN points out these rank changes in its data, as well as the raw scores.