2 Febuary 2011
South Africa’s Human Development Index (HDI) – a standard measure of determining whether a country is developed, developing or underdeveloped – is continuing on an upward trend that started in 2007 following a decade-long decline, according to the SA Institute of Race Relations.
The index combines measurements of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita for countries worldwide.
“This upward trend looks set to continue, which means that South Africa should expect further rises in its HDI, barring any negative changes in educational attainment or GDP per capita,” SA Institute of Race Relations researcher Thuthukani Ndebele said last week.
1990-2005: Aids pandemic takes its toll
Ndebele said it showed a decline in South Africa between 1990 and 2005 because of a dramatic drop in life expectancy due to the HIV/Aids pandemic. The index has been on an upward trend in the country since 2007.
South Africa’s HDI was 0.658 in 1980 – the height of apartheid – rising steadily to 0.698 in 1990. By 2005, however, it had decreased to 0.678, which was worse than its 1985 level, the institute said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) data shows South Africa’s HDI rose again to 0.683 in 2007, according to the annual 2009/10 South Africa Survey published by the institute.
“Updated figures from the UNDP show that the upward trend continued into 2010,” the institute said.
Life expectancy on the increase
Life expectancy for South African men increased between 2005 and 2007, from 50.3 years to 51.4 years, Statistics South Africa data showed. Women’s life expectancy increased from 52.6 years in 2005 to 53.4 years in 2007.
“This increase in life expectancy between 2005 and 2007 accounts for the increase in South Africa’s HDI,” Ndebele said. “By 2010, life expectancy for men was 53.3 years, and for women it was 55.2 years.
“This shows the increasingly positive effect of the government’s roll-out of antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV/Aids.”