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19th of July 2018

Economy



St Catherine, St Ann get high marks for living standards

A new study has shown that Jamaicans living in the parishes of St Catherine and St Ann have scored the highest in human development in the three basic dimensions comprising a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.

Jamaica overall was ranked 94 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index, the HDI, based on 2015 data, retaining its 2014 ranking, according to the June 2018 Human Development Today, the newsletter of the United Nations Development Programme.

The parish-specific data for Jamaica is based on a new Subnational Human Development Index, SHDI.

The newsletter said that while at the national level the SHDI coincides with the official HDI constructed by the UNDP, its subnational values reflect - in a globally comparable way - the variation in human development among geographic regions within countries.

At the national level, Jamaica's HDI value for 2015 was 0.730. A country scoring zero is considered to have the lowest human development and a score of one, the highest development. Jamaica has been ranked in the high human development category of the index.

The parishes with the highest values under the subnational index at 0.756 were St Catherine and St Ann, followed by Kingston & St Andrew, which had a value of 0.746.

Next were Manchester and Clarendon which had a subnational value of 0.715, meaning that they scored fifth and sixth as having the highest scores in having a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living.

St Thomas, Portland and St Mary each had a subnational value of 0.712; while Trelawny and St Elizabeth scored 0.705.

St James, Hanover and Westmoreland were at the bottom, which together had a value of 0.702.

The UNDP measures health by life expectancy at birth, that is, the number of years a newborn infant could expect to live if prevailing patterns of age-specific mortality rates at the time of birth stay the same throughout the infant's life. For Jamaica, life expectancy at birth was 75.8 years.

 

Education measurement

 

Knowledge or education is measured by the expected years of schooling, the number that a child of school-entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrol-ment rates persist throughout the child's life. For Jamaica, the expected years of schooling was 12.8 years at the time of the study.

It is also measured by the mean years of schooling - the average number of years of education received by people ages 25 and older. For Jamaica, that was 9.6 years.

The UN body measures a decent standard of living by gross national income, or GNI, per capita at purchasing power parity, PPP, which for Jamaica, based on 2011 PPP, was US$8,350, according to the UNDP study. On the other hand, a World Bank report puts Jamaica's GNI per capita at US$4,630 as at 2016.

GNI per capita is the dollar value of a country's final income in a year, divided by its population. It reflects the average income of a country's citizens.

Researchers have suggested that knowing a country's GNI per capita is a good first step towards understanding the country's economic strengths and needs, as well as the general standard of living enjoyed by the average citizen.

A country's GNI per capita tends to be closely linked with other indicators that measure the social, economic, and environmental well-being of the country and its people. An example cited is that generally, people living in countries with higher GNI per capita tend to have longer life expectancies, higher literacy rates, better access to safe water, and lower infant mortality rates.

The UNDP June 2018 report noted that the human development index, published most years since 1990, has become its flagship indicator and is now one of the reference indicators to assess countries' socio-economic development.

Despite its global success, however, it has received some criticism regarding distributional issues. Among the questions was: How can a single number faithfully represent the distribution of education, health and living standards among vast countries with millions of inhabitants?

It was against that background that the subnational index was developed to illustrate within-country variation in human development across the globe.

"As we move towards the year 2030, finely grained tools like the SHDI can be useful for policy-makers and researchers wanting to investigate whether the SDGs (sustainable develop-ment goals) are being met, so that no region is left behind in the human development journey," said the UNDP report.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com

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