In the Child Development Index 2012, we compare our findings with those of the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Since the CDI began life in 2008 as an attempt to produce a child-focused equivalent, the parallels are unsurprising.
Also unsurprising is that the majority of countries score in the same quartile for both the CDI and the HDI – on the diagonal of the figure below (click for a bigger version).
Looking off the diagonal is more interesting. Countries above the diagonal are scoring better on the HDI than on the CDI, which suggests a risk that they may be under-’investing’ in future development, compared to their current situation. Countries below the diagonal score better on the CDI, which may suggest a greater policy emphasis on future outcomes.
But a quick caveat first. Since the CDI refers to a longer period (data limitations mean we have to calculate scores over 5-6 year periods), while the HDI data relate to the most recent year, a country which has gone backwards in the CDI ranking – such as Zimbabwe – can still appear to outperform on the CDI (since the more recent HDI data show it having gone further backwards). Differences will therefore not always reflect the relative intensity of child-centred development efforts.
Having said that, there are some striking patterns. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly strongly represented at the bottom of the figure, with low HDI countries in the medium CDI quartile – including, for example, the strong CDI performer Tanzania. This should be seen as encouraging news.
On the other hand, resource-rich states are strongly represented above the diagonal, which begs the question: is resource wealth a risk factor for investment in child well-being?
The other story that stands out is about the BRICS. Brazil, South Africa and Russia are on the diagonal (they occupy the same quartiles of the CDI and the HDI), but China and India appear as polar opposites. While both score as ‘medium’ development on the HDI, China is in the highest quartile of the CDI, and India is in the lowest.
In fact, China is the only country which scores not one, but two quartiles higher in the CDI than the HDI. The suggest is that, in relative terms, China is heavily prioritising investment in children. Both score highly on net enrolment rates, but more than 40% of India’s children are moderately or severely underweight, compared to less than 5% of China’s; and India’s under-five mortality rate exceeds 60 out of 1,000, while China’s is below 20.