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The latest Human Development Report (HDR) has revealed that Antigua and Barbuda is ranked 74th out of 198 countries, which placed the twin island in the high human development category.

The report, which was published on December 9th 2019, presents the 2018 Human Development Index (HDI) for 189 countries and United Nations recognised territories.

The HDI is an average measure of basic human development achievements in a country which, like all averages, masks inequality in the distribution of human development across the population at the country level.

The Human Development report states that “between 2005 and 2018, Antigua and Barbuda’s HDI value increased from 0.773 to 0.776, an increase of 0.5 percent.”

Furthermore, “Antigua and Barbuda’s 2018 HDI of 0.776 is above the average of 0.750 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.759 for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. “

From Latin America and the Caribbean, countries which are close to Antigua and Barbuda in 2018’s HDI rank and to some extent in population size, are Bahamas and Grenada which this year have been ranked 60 and 78, respectively.

“Between 1990 and 2018, Antigua and Barbuda’s life expectancy at birth increased by 5.4 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.2 years, and expected years of schooling decreased by 0.8 years,” the report further states.

“Antigua and Barbuda’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by about 41.0 percent between 1990 and 2018.”

The Human Development Report (HDR), which pioneers a more holistic way to measure countries’ progress beyond economic growth alone, says that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing, with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger, and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. The next generation of inequalities is manifesting around issues of technology, education, and the climate crisis.

“Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets — the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality, and as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions,” said the United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Achim Steiner.

Moreover, the report notes that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the perception of unfairness in the distribution of wealth has increased since 2012, returning to levels of the late 1990s. Inequality in self-reported happiness (or subjective well-being as it is also called), which had remained steady in the region until 2014, has risen since.

The report analyses inequality in three steps: beyond income, beyond averages, and beyond today, proposing a battery of policy options to tackle it.

It recommends policies that look at but also go beyond income, anchored in lifespan interventions starting even before birth, including through pre-labour market investments in young children’s learning, health, and nutrition.

And it argues that “progressive taxation, while necessary to finance equality, cannot be looked at on its own, but must be part of a system of policies, including for public spending on health, education, and alternatives to a carbon-intensive lifestyle. Averages hide what is really going on in society, says the HDR, and while they can be helpful in telling a larger story, much more detailed information is needed to create policies to tackle inequality effectively.”

The other islands of the Eastern Caribbean that have been ranked in the top 100 are Barbados at 56th; The Bahamas 60th; Trinidad and Tobago 63rd; Saint Kitts and Nevis 73rd; Grenada 78th; Saint Lucia 89th; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 94th; and Dominica 98th.

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