Overview - Society
Development is ultimately about people and improving their lives. This section of the report examines six topics, starting with conflict and fragility, moving on to the four interconnected issues of labour, education and skills, migration, and health, and concluding with the theme of measuring progress in societies.
Conflict and fragility
While many countries are making progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a group of countries affected by weak capacity, problematic state-society relations, deep social divides and/or the legacy of violent conflict is lagging 40 to 60% behind other low and middle-income countries in MDG achievement. It is in these countries that one billion of the world’s six billion people live, where half of the world’s children die before the age of five, and one third of all people live on less than USD 1 a day. About 35 of the countries considered fragile in 1979 were still fragile in 2009, and the gap with other developing countries has been widening since the 1970s.
Labour issues are central to the prospects for achieving fair and sustainable development. The ILO estimates that more than a billion women and men are unemployed, underemployed, or working poor. An estimated 300 million new jobs will be needed by 2015 to absorb new entrants to the labour market, most of them youth and women. But even among those at work, earnings, working conditions and career prospects are often meagre. Around 40 to 45% of the world’s employed are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the USD 2 per day poverty line, and millions work in hazardous conditions. Throughout the world, the poorest and least protected – often women, children, the low-skilled and migrants – are among the most affected. More than 200 million children in the world today are involved in child labour, and at least 12.3 million people are trapped in forced labour.
Education and skills
Progress in education, training, and human resource development are essential for achieving sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, and for responding to the changes in technology and demographics that are re-shaping labour markets. Education improves productivity, employability, nutrition and healthcare, and general prosperity. Education systems need to provide equitable opportunities – starting in early childhood and continuing throughout life. They need to equip people with knowledge, skills and tools to stay competitive and engaged. Within this broad framework, specific targets on primary education are set out in the MDGs: universal primary education and the elimination of gender disparity in primary education. There is a strong link between the gender disparity target and other topics: lack of education for girls contributes to high adolescent birth rates, jeopardising health and holding back social and economic advancement.
It is estimated that more than 200 million people, or around 3% of the world’s population, live outside their country of birth. This figure includes migration in all directions, both within the South and the North, and between the South and North. Within this overall figure, total migrants from developing countries are around 171 million. Available data suggests that nearly half of this total reside within other developing countries (mainly immediately neighbouring countries). A similar number (around 75 million) reside in OECD countries.
Good health and health care are essential not just for economic and social development but in their own right, and as a gender issue. Three of the eight MDGs focus on health: child mortality, maternal health and fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Although average life expectancy has increased over recent decades in most countries, many statistics remain shocking. Child mortality has been reduced significantly but pneumonia and diarrhoea continue to kill 3.8 million children each year, despite both conditions being preventable and treatable at reasonable cost. Inadequate access to clean water and sanitation accounts for 1.8 million child deaths each year. Infectious diseases respect no boundaries as shown by the recent SARS and influenza epidemics.
Indicators of progress
Development is ultimately about people and improving their lives. Economic growth is a central but not the only factor in creating better lives. Measuring progress needs to consider a much wider range of indicators, such as health and environmental conditions, education levels, as well as areas that are intrinsically more difficult to measure, such as subjective well-being. Monitoring this progress requires both reliable statistical data and assessment frameworks based on internationally agreed goals. Since 1990, the UNDP has been monitoring progress in all countries with the Human Development Index (HDI), and, since 2000, the UN and the World Bank have been compiling data and producing indicators to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Ajouter à ma sélection