Strategies for Success in Human Development

Date: Jan, 2000
ODID Working Paper No. 32
Author(s): Gustav Ranis(Yale University), Frances Stewart (QEH)

The paper explores the conditions making for success in Human Development (HD) in developing countries. For this purpose it defines success in HD in a materialistic and reductionist way as being measured by progress in improving life expectancy and reducing infant mortality rates. Drawing on general reasoning and previous empirical work, the paper identifies probable conditions for country success, including economic growth, income distribution, government expenditure patterns and female education and control over household resources.

The four best HD performers over the years 1960-95 in each of three regions - Africa, Asia and Latin America- are identified using a number of indicators. Evidence is then presented on these countries performance on the elements earlier identified as being likely to lead to success. Considerable variation in performance on most elements is shown - e.g. some countries did well on economic growth, but others did poorly. Consistency was only observed on female education, which was outstandingly good for all successful countries. For the other elements, poor performance on one element was compensated for by good performance on others, e.g. low growth was compensated for by relatively equal income distribution and high government expenditure on HD priorities. Different combinations of performance on the various elements are identified among successful countries. The paper also discusses conditions needed for sustainability of HD success.

ODID Author(s)