The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2015 Human Development IndexPresents the 2014 Human Development Index (HDI – values and ranks) for 188 countries and UN-recognized territories.South Africa ranks 116th out of 188. With an HDI value of 0.666 for 2014, South Africa is in the medium human development category.Steady increase in HDI value since 1990, moving up 7.2% from 0.621 in 1990 to 0.666 in 2014.South Africans today enjoy a longer, healthier life, have better access to education and a more decent living standard.Table: SA’s HDI trends based on consistent time series data and new goalposts 2010(2011 HDR)20112012(2013 HDR)2013(2014 HDR)2014(*2015 HDR)Rank123 (/187)123 (/187)121 (/186)118 (/187)116(/188)HDI Value0.6430.6510.6590.663+0.666Life expectancy at birth54.555.556.356.9+57.4Expected years of schooling13.513.513.613.6+13.6Mean years of schooling220.127.116.11.9+9.9GNI per capita (2011 PPP$)11,83311,97712,04112,134+12,122 1. BackgroundThe 2015 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) focuses on the instrinsic relationship between work and human development. The Report defines work not only as employment, but as a means to contribute to the public good, reduce inequality, secure livelihoods and empower individuals.The 2015 HDR presents the 2014 Human Development Index (HDI – values and ranks) for 188 countries and UN-recognized territories.South Africa ranks 116th out of 188. With an HDI value of 0.666 for 2014, SA is in the medium human development category.As noted in previous years, the country has seen a steady increase in its HDI value since 1990, moving up 7.2% from 0.621 in 1990 to 0.666 in 2014.The National Development Plan (NDP) identifies human development as a critical part of inclusive growth and acknowledges its inadequate improvement in relation to education, health and safety. South Africa has a good story developing, indicated by the steady improvement of its Human Development Index (HDI) score over the last years.Table 1 below shows the comparability across years for South Africa, presenting trends using consistent data.[i]Table 1: Trends in South Africa’s HDI, 1990–2014Human Development Index (HDI)HDI rankAverage annual HDI growthHDI rankCountryValueChange(%)199020002010201120122013201420132009–20141990–20002000–20102010–20141990–2014116South Africa0,6210,6320,6430,6510,6590,6630,66611740,170,180,870,29Table 1 illustrates, among others, SA’s HDI average annual value increase of approximately 0.29% from 1990 to 2014. The rank is shared with El Salvador and Viet Nam.South Africa has made several gradual, yet significant strides over the past few years not only in its overall HDI ranking as mentioned above, but also in other areas. Between 2010 and 2014, Life Expectancy at Birth increased by 2.9 years; Expected Years of Schooling increased by 0.1 years[i] and Mean Years of Schooling increased by 0,3 years. Gross National Income (GNI) per capita also increased by 11.8% in this same period (See Table 2 below)Table 2: SA’s HDI trends based on consistent time series data and new goalposts 2010(2011 HDR)20112012(2013 HDR)2013(2014 HDR)2014(*2015 HDR)Rank123 (/187)123 (/187)121 (/186)118 (/187)116[i](/188)HDI Value0.6430.6510.6590.6630.666 éLife expectancy at birth54.555.556.356.957.4 éExpected years of schooling13.513.513.613.613.6 éMean years of schooling18.104.22.168.99.9 éGNI per capita (2011 PPP$)11,83311,97712,04112,13412,122 éSource: 2015 HDR 2. South Africa’s Progress Relative to Other Developing CountriesCompared to other countries in the medium human development category, SA’s HDI of 0.666 is above average (0.63). The country’s performance is even more impressive when compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, which has an average HDI score of 0.518.Based on population size, SA is closest to Namibia and Congo, which have HDIs ranked 126th and 136th, respectively.Table 3: SA’s HDI indicators for 2014 relative to selected countries & groupsHDI rankCountryHDI valueLife expectancy at birthExpected years of schoolingMean years of schoolingGNI per capita (PPP US$)63Mauritius0.77774.415.68.5$ 17,470108Egypt0.69071.113.56.6$ 10,512116South Africa 0.66657.413.69.9$ 12,122126Namibia 0.62864.811.36.2$ 9,418136Congo 0.59162.311.16.1$ 6,012140Ghana 0.57961.411.57.0$ 3,852145Kenya 0.54861.611.06.3$ 2,762152Nigeria 0.51452.89.05.9$ 5,341—Sub-Saharan Africa 0.51822.214.171.124$ 3,363—Medium HDI 0.63068.611.86.2$ 6,353Source: Briefing Notes for countries on the 2015 Human Development Report Table 3 shows that South Africa performs fairly well compared to other big players on the continent, e.g. Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, outranking all three. That said, Mauritius has made significant strides in its development. Starting from a slightly lower HDI score than South Africa in 1990 (0.619), the country has progressed significantly to become the highest ranking African country on the Index.Table 4: SA’s HDI indicators relative to BRICSRankCountryHDI valueLife expectancyat birthExpected Years of SchoolingMean Years of SchoolingGNI per capita (PPP US$)50Russian Federation0.79870.114.712.0$ 22.61775Brazil0.75574.515.27.7$ 15,17590China0.72775.813.17.5$ 12,547116South Africa0.66657.413.69.9$ 12,122130India0.60968.011.75.4$ 5,497Source: Briefing Notes for countries on the 2015 Human Development Report The table above indicates South Africa performs strongly on several indicators, namely the Mean Years of Schooling (coming second only to Russia) and its GNI (it comes in a close third to Russia and China). Although the country has performed weakly in the Rank indicator when compared with its BRIC counterparts, this should not deflect from its overall improvements in score over the past five years.3. ConclusionAs in the previous HDR, South Africa only has 1.3% of the total population living in severe poverty. Figures for Namibia and Congo, identified as its most “comparable” African counterparts, are much higher, with 13.4% and 12.4% of the population living in severe poverty, attesting to the fact that South Africans today enjoy a longer, healthier life, have better access to education and a more decent living standard. Brand South Africa’s Research Notes, Research Reports and Web Analyses communicate findings from Brand South Africa research, related panel discussions and analyses of global performance indices. The publications are intended to elicit comments, contribute to debate, and inform stakeholders about trends and issues that impact on South Africa’s reputation and overall competitiveness.Views expressed in Research Notes, Reports and Analyses are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Brand South Africa, or the Government of the Republic of South Africa. Every precaution is taken to ensure the accuracy of information. However, Brand South Africa shall not be liable to any person for inaccurate information or opinions contained herein.Contacts Dr Petrus de Kock – General Manager Research – email@example.comDr Judy Smith-Höhn- Research Manager – firstname.lastname@example.orgMs Leigh-Gail Petersen – Researcher – email@example.comEndnotes:[i] Note that because national and international agencies continually improve their data series, the data — including the HDI values and ranks — presented in the Human Development Report are not comparable to those published in earlier editions.[ii] The improvements in the Schooling categories are particularly impressive when considering the longer term improvements in this area. Between 1980 and 2014, Expected Years of Schooling increased by 2.2 years and Mean Years of Schooling by 5 years.[iii] There is an inconsistency with the ranking on the UNDP website. The pdf reports rank SA at 116, as does the online HDI ranking overview, while a click on the link to South Africa country website overview puts SA at 117th. Brand SA has contacted UNDP to clarify.