The Human Development Index is a measurement of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. A country scores a higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the gross national income GNI per capita is higher. It was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian economist Amartya Sen and was further used to measure a country’s development by the United Nations Development Programmed Human Development Report Office.
It’s based on the human development approach which was developed by Ul Haq and was made to express whether people can ‘be’ and ‘do’ desirable things in life for example, whether they’re sheltered, healthy or if they’re involved in education, voting, participating in community life. The freedom of choice is central—someone choosing to be hungry is quite different from someone who is hungry because they cannot afford to buy food, or because the country is in a famine.
The Human Development Index (HDI) was designed to rank countries and regions based on their human development. Although the HDI has proved to be very beneficial and useful; seen by its continuous implementation in the annual reports since its introduction on 1990, there are a few drawbacks that regard the HDI as an imperfect metric. One drawback to the HDI is its perfected method of measuring development across regions/states rather than being able to specify the differences inside those individual regions.
In truth, it measures a wide range scale of development rather than a limited one. The Human Development Index overall manages to categorize a country’s success and group them into four main areas ranging between Low Human Development, Medium Human Development, High Human Development and Very High Human Development. Countries that have a consistent level overall of a higher human development rank higher compared to those that have discrepancies, such as some regions within these countries scoring lower in life expectancy rather than the rest of the country where that criteria has already been surpassed. One such comparison between a regions overall human development index can be seen between the states New York and New Mexico.
In order to understand a regions current place and position in regard to their HDI’s, it’s important to understand how and why their region will have advantages in certain tiers of human development and lack in others. In New York’s case, it’s been a pivotal point in most if not all periods of history. Some instances of its impact can be dated back to the American Revolution.
New York played a pivotal role throughout this period, but more particularly early on. It’s central position in the American Colonies and its port made it vital to commerce and a key strategic point. It was easier for ships to navigate the deeper water of New York Harbor than the Jersey mainland. As of late, more freight comes in through the ‘Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal,’ or now Port Newark-Elizabeth. But this area had to be dredged and expanded; New York offered a deep-water port naturally, which was a giant boon to commerce.
Another factor was the Erie Canal. For a long time, this was the premiere grain link between the upper Midwest and the Atlantic; and when river vessels made their way down the Hudson, grain for export would be transferred to ocean-worthy ships. It makes for a busy port and lucrative trade opportunities. All these trading opportunities led to a cultivation of different peoples, furthermore, leading to the creation and booming of jobs and the economy.
This is prevalent in the percentage of income in New York in comparison to New Mexico, New Mexico’s median income is $26,969 while New York’s is $36,286 according to the Measures of America. New Mexico hasn’t entirely had such a great level of income, even with its history in crop production and its farmland. New Mexico’s economy revolving around oil and gas don’t need enough workers to grow its economy beyond a certain low level. It also has low high school graduation and college attendance rates can’t create a workforce required for that aspect of the economy to grow.
New York is a very big state and because of its location, New York was a famous immigrant hub. There are people from all over Europe living in New York from Jewish people and Irish to Italians. In comparison, New Mexico It’s no wonder how according to the Measure of America, New York harbors more that 19 million people while New Mexico harbors a bit over 2 million.
There are many reasons for the differences of population and the types of people who occupy both regions. Considering New Mexico’s proximity to Texas and thus Mexico, it has a rich history of Native Cultures and later with the Spanish colonization; it has some of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the United States. New Mexico is one of the few US states that has never really experienced what you might refer to as a ‘population boom.’
Whereas many states (i.e. New York) at times saw increases of several hundred percent per decade, particularly in the 18th century, the largest decade on decade population increase in New Mexico was only 60%. Native Americans have also inhabited New Mexico for approximately 13,000 years. Native Americans have inhabited New York for an extended period, however due to the subsequent contact with Europeans, it’s had a profound impact on their history of the people.
The difference in population is, however, mainly due to the different approaches of Spain and England in colonizing. Spain established an empire rooted in classical ideals. There was no reason for a Spaniard not to take a converted Native as a wife and have mixed-race children. And the natives themselves were, after conversion, even though the process of conversion itself was often brutal and genocidal – but there was no sense killing the peasants who worked the land.
Meanwhile England tended to copy the plantation colony model it used in Ireland where a lot of English-speakers moved in and established a settlement culturally identical to the one they left behind in Britain. There was no place in these settlements for natives, for example, Africans tended to be better slaves and the English had no real desire to mix, culturally or biologically, with the native peoples.
They tended to either buy the natives’ land (on the understanding that the natives would leave) or just kill them (in most cases the Europeans were fortunate enough to carry along multiple diseases that wiped out the Native Americans on its own without the need for brute force.) Hence the reason why in regard to the ADI website, New Mexico harbors a higher population of native American and Hispanics than New York: New Mexico has 48% Latinos and 18% Native Americans while New York has 19% of Latinos and 0% of Native Americans in their population.
The Human Development Index has been criticized on a number of grounds, including alleged lack of consideration of technological development or contributions to the human civilization, focusing exclusively on national performance and ranking, lack of attention to development from a global perspective, measurement error of the underlying statistics, and on the UNDP’s changes in formula which can lead to a huge misclassification of ‘low’, ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ human development countries.
Although that may be the case, based on historical events, the HDI has a pretty leveled basis of the conclusions in can calculate based on the country’s well-being. In regard to New Mexico and New York, it may not express perfect scales for these individual states hierarchy in the tiers of human development, but it does give an understanding of how people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.