Tracking Our Collective Well-being over Time

Traces of how well-being, as indicated by HDI (the UN's Human Development Index),
progresses with equity and sustainability at the national level over recent years.

Source: United Nations Development Programme - Human Development Report 2011
Excluding countries with missing HDI, sustainability, or equity data.

HDI: thickness of the bar for each country in a year (doesn't show well in this graph that covers up to 174 countries, but you can begin to see how Australia, at the top in 1995, and Norway in 2008 have much thicker HDI bars than the clumps of bars for low-HDI countries at the bottom of each year strip)

equity: color of bars - ranging from red for high inequality to green for high equality within each country

sustainability: opacity of bars - ranging from clear to opaque as sustainability varies from minimum to maximum values

quartliles: HDI quartiles are indicated with the blue lines

Year Patterns

The number of countries tabulated with the HDI has fluctuated over time, and the count grew between 1995 and 2005:
year HDI countries
1995 136
2000 153
2005 174
2006 174
2007 174
2008 174

The 2008 column is substantially more opaque than the 1995 column, indicating improved overall sustainability, while equity doesn't seem to be spreading as well over the years (reddish bars).

Country Patterns

Rolling your mouse over the yearly vertical bars in the graph highlights the country under the mouse, giving a sense of how the country's HDI has progressed relative to others over the years.

On manually exploring the narrow view of HDR data presented with this graph, it appears that most countries have floated within the same quartile over from 1995 to 2008. Still, there are a few relatively dramatic ascents and descents. Ireland's HDI has been on a continuous rise since 1995 (at least as of 2008):

More dramatically, Hong Kong's HDI was relatively constant, then made leaps in 2007 and 2008:

The HDI of United Arab Emirates has also been on the rise, since 2000:

In contrast, South Africa's HDI dropped significantly from 1995 to 2005, and continued to drop up to 2008, although not as quickly:

Montenegro was among the 21 countries added between 2000 and 2005, so it's mouse rollover history only spans four years:

Sliver of the Tip of a Data Iceberg

The 2011 HDR explores the links between equity, sustainability, and HDI. Numerous datasets were published with the report. This graph hopes to provide a glimpse at how some patterns of equity and sustainability relate to HDI, especially over the course of several years. However, the datasets published with the report only have a handful of equity and sustainability data that cover more than a couple years for most countries.

The HDR accounts for several factors in judging equality (or commonly it's converse, inequality). Most of the inequality-related data covers only one or two years, or relatively few countries across a range of years. Labor force participation data is available for 177 of the 194 countries in the HDI dataset, and it spans 1980 to 2009. The data for female-male labor force participation ratio represents a measure of workplace equality here. However, the available data doesn't account for other key aspects of gender equality, such as compensation levels and types of work. Portrayal of equality in this graph only begins to give a sense of patterns in gender issues and much broader equity discussed in the Human Development Report.

Similarly, the HDR addresses several issues regarding sustainability, but only two sustainability datasets extend more than two years: Carbon Dioxide Emissions per capita, and Forest Area. Carbon dioxide emissions is presented here, spanning 1995 to 2008. Taken as a whole, the emissions per capita data shows marked improvement between 1995 and 2008, with the 2008 column much more opaque than the 1995 column. Still, portraying sustainability here with just CO2 emissions is a narrow view of the HDR's broad discussion of sustainability.

HDI 2011

HDI: ( of )