PRESS RELEASE

Human Development Report 2019: “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today”

According to the latest report, Montenegro remains in the category of very high human development, for the fourth year in a row

Bogota, Colombia, 9 December 2019 According to the latest Human Development Report, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Montenegro maintains its position among the category of countries with very high human development, for the fourth year in a row.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. With the HDI value of 0.816, Montenegro ranks 52nd out of 189 countries and territories, sharing its position with Romania and Bulgaria.

Traditionally, the top of the ladder is held by Norway, while the top ten include: Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong (China, SAR), Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Singapore and Netherlands. On the other hand, the lowest HDI scores were again recorded in the countries of Niger, the Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, and Burundi.

Out of the Western Balkan countries in this category, apart from Montenegro there is only Slovenia (24th) and Croatia (46th). All other countries of the region are in the high human development category: Serbia (63rd), Albania (69th), Bosnia & Herzegovina (75th), FYR Macedonia (82th).

Daniela Gasparikova, UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro said that: “Montenegro has made steady progress over the last 15 years. Since 2005, the HDI has increased by 8.3% - and its current value of 0.816 is below the average of 0.892 for countries in the very high human development group and above the average of 0.779 for countries in Europe and Central Asia. The progress so far was largely driven by the economic growth as a necessary precondition for the increasing quality of people’s life in the country. However, we are seeing the growth has not benefited all, leaving some groups of people systematically disadvantaged in many ways. This is what the Multidimensional Poverty Index is telling us – that almost 5% of Montenegrin population continues to be exposed or vulnerable to multiple deprivations.  At the same time, the 2018 Gross National Income per capita (2011 PPP US$) is 30% lower for women than men. This means that long-lasting change in both income and the broader range of inequalities in human development depend on a wider and more systemic approach to development, going beyond stimulating the GDP growth or redistribution of income. These strategies will work only if they are combined with policies that address underlying biases, social norms and power structures in societies as well as in labour markets.”       

Historically more equal than rest of the world, the region of Europe and Central Asia now faces unstable labour markets and social exclusion. A shrinking middle class, high levels of informal and vulnerable employment, gaps in social protection, emigration of skilled and young workers, and perceptions of inequality before the law make inequality issues particularly pressing in the region, the Report shows.

It is widely acknowledged that income inequality only tells a part of the story. That is why the new report looks at human development beyond income, beyond averages and beyond today – as its title suggests.

 “Just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing across the world, new forms of inequalities are emerging – caused by uneven access to technology and education, which will be further exacerbated among poorer and more vulnerable groups due to climate crisis.”Ms. Gasparikova concluded.   

Gender disparities are among the most entrenched forms of inequality everywhere. How men and women fare in human development is measured by the Gender Development Index (GDI) and Gender Inequality Index (GII). Montenegro’s GDI is below the average of countries from the very high human development group. The most notable difference is in command over economic resources: The Gross National Income for men is over 20,634 USD, while at the same time women can’t reach 14,457 USD. When looking at the values of GII, Montenegro ranks 27th out of 162 countries, but still: only 23.5% parliamentary seats are held by women and 88% of adult women have reached at least the secondary education compared to 97.5% of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 births, 7 women die from pregnancy related causes, while the adolescent birth rate is 9.3 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19. Female participation in the labour market is 43.6% compared to 58.1% for men.

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Regional perspective:

While the middle-income countries of Europe and Central Asia have achieved higher living standards than ever before, climate change and technological disruption could severely slow down their efforts to reduce inequalities. A shrinking middle class, high levels of informal and vulnerable employment, gaps in social protection, emigration of skilled and young workers, and perceptions of inequality before the law make inequality issues particularly pressing in the region, the Report shows.

“Human development is about expanding people’s choices,” says Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. “While we take stock of where the region stands today – its achievements and its challenges – we must bear in mind that some of today’s inequalities are set to become more significant in the future.”

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Global perspective:

The demonstrations sweeping across the world today signal that, despite unprecedented progress against poverty, hunger and disease, many societies are not working as they should. The connecting thread, argues the new Human Development Report, is inequality.

“This Human Development Report sets out how systemic inequalities are deeply damaging our society and why,” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “Inequality is not just about how much someone earns compared to their neighbour. It is about the unequal distribution of wealth and power: the entrenched social and political norms that are bringing people onto the streets today, and the triggers that will do so in the future unless something changes. Recognizing the real face of inequality is a first step; what happens next is a choice that each leader must make.”

Montenegro data and explanatory note

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