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Georgia 74th in Human Development Index

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 9
The 2010 Human Development Index (HDI) – a composite national measure of health, education and income for 169 countries – released on November 4 in the 20th anniversary edition of the Human Development Report shows Georgia in 74th position in the list and that the country remains a developing nation; however according to the report, compared to former years there are obvious positive changes.

Georgia has climbed 15 places since 2007. Analysis of the trends shows that Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the highest “underperformance” rates—countries whose progress on the HDI is significantly below what would have been predicted at their initial stage of development. The greatest single factor was health declines: average life expectancy in the Russian Federation dropped from 69 in 1970 to 67 in 2010, in neighbouring Belarus from 71 to 70, and Ukraine from 71 to 69, the report shows.

“Although the collapse of socialist and communist systems in Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union presented new economic and political opportunities, the transition process affected countries in the region differently,” said Jeni Klugman, the Report’s lead author. “The introduction of democratic practices, for example, while an enormous achievement did not necessarily translate into sustained human development achievements on other fronts.”

On the positive side, literacy rates have been consistently high and increasing throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an average of 96 percent in 2010, up from 91 percent in 1970. It shows that most Eastern European countries made major gains in this period of profound regional change, but the largest countries from the former Soviet Union suffered severe health setbacks.

Analyst Nika Chitadze told The Messenger the country has moved forward but there are significant issues preventing the country from achieving more progress. He stated, “There are some advances in the country. For example, for 2004 growth in state GDP was 7.2%, in 2007 this figure was nearly 12% and is still growing. Tax and customs codes have became more liberal and there is a minimal rate on imported goods. Reform in law enforcement structures might also be considered successful and as regards crime rates, the country has definitely improved.” Chitadze also pointed out those areas which are not satisfactory, claiming, “There is no stable economic environment in the country and there are problems regarding personal freedom. The country’s economy should be more diverse and there should be more skilful and professional staff in different state institutions or departments.” He emphasised the key issues creating the most serious obstacles for the country advancement, “There are some different problems, but for now I would underline the most significant ones: 1. the fact that nearly 20% of Georgian territory is occupied deters investors from investing in the Georgian economy, as there are high political risks in the region. Since 2007 investment in the country has fallen. 2. Unqualified employees in state institutions and departments; interviews are sometimes held to choose employees; however, more often patronage works in this area.”

The HDI has been used since 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme for its annual Human Development reports. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether a country is a developed, a developing or an under-developed country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.