Inequality keeps PH human dev’t pace slow, say new data

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2013

Inequality has been a drag on the pace of improvement in human development in the Philippines, according to data in the latest Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan noted yesterday that the UNDP study shows that advances in human development in the Philippines have been much slower than in most of its neighbors in the Southeast Asian region over the past three decades.

Balisacan, concurrently director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said that while the Philippines continues to rank relatively higher in human development ratings than other ASEAN member countries, the trend of improvement in the country’s human development has been relatively flat.

The 2013 Human Development Report ranked the Philippines at 114 among 187 countries, with a “medium” Human Development Index (HDI) at 0.654 as of 2012.

HDI is a composite index of health, education, and income.

“Within the ASEAN region, the Philippines’ HDI is higher than Indonesia (0.629), Vietnam (0.617), Cambodia (0.543), Lao PDR (0.543), and Myanmar (0.498), though lower than Thailand (0.690) and Malaysia (0.769),” Balisacan said.

While Indonesia and Vietnam have lower HDIs compared to the Philippines, their improvement speed had been faster compared to the Philippines in the past 30 years, the NEDA chief said.

The UNDP study shows that because of inequality, the Philippines has had a loss of 19.9 percent in “potential” human development, he said.

While the Philippines’ HDI for 2012 is 0.654, when the value is discounted for inequality, the index level falls to 0.524.

“It is adjusted to inequality, so that we could see what the actual human development achievements are,” Balisacan said.

“We could have achieved 20 percent more in human development if the distribution was more equitable,” he said.

Balisacan also said the Philippines so far has achieved only three of the eight Millennium Development Goals and in nine out of the 22 indicators of the MDGs, with only two years before the 2015 deadline.

“We are an early achiever in the attainment of the MDGs in the areas of gender equality, disease control, and environmental sustainability,” he said.

The government, he said, will continue to double its efforts on human development through such programs as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the National Health Insurance Program, and other pro-poor initiatives.

Overall, the Philippines fared better in comparison with its Southeast Asian neighbors such as Timor Leste, Cambodia and Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic in terms of progress towards attaining the MDGs, Balisacan said. –ANGELA CELIS, Businessmirror

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