Economy News

New Report Ranks Provinces and Territories Using Human Development Index

The Centre for the Study of Living Standards released its latest report today entitled, The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011.  The report provides comparable estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI) for Canadian provinces and territories from 2000-2011.
The HDI is an international set of indicators that measure socio-economic wellbeing in order to facilitate comparisons within and between countries. There are three dimensions taken into consideration – life expectancy, education, and income – measured by four indicators, including life expectancy at birth, average years of education, expected years of schooling, and Gross National Income per capita.
The table below, adapted from the report, shows the regional rankings for the four indicators of well-being used for the HDI. The three territories ranked the lowest on life expectancy, and expected years of schooling; the NWT and Nunavut also ranked among the lowest for average educational attainment, while the Yukon ranked among the highest. The NWT ranked first on Gross National Income, Yukon third, and Nunavut sixth. The maritime provinces ranked the lowest on this indicator.

The report notes some of the strengths and weaknesses of the HDI as a measure of wellbeing and development.


First, [the HDI] captures more elements that describe quality of life, namely education and life expectancy, than do standard income measures. In this sense, it presents a broader measure of human development than GDP per capita or other common measures of income and consumption. Second, it is relatively easy to calculate and has minimal data requirements, allowing it to be calculated for many developing countries. Thus, it is particularly useful for international comparisons of human development and well-being.


[The HDI’s] primary failing is that it only considers three elements of economic well-being: education, life expectancy and income. It does not take into account other critical elements of well-being such as income inequality, gender inequality, morbidity, political freedom, civil liberties, corruption, pollution, or economic security.

The report is the first of its kind and is an important contribution to our understanding of the variability in well being across the different regions of Canada, which are masked when only the national indicators are reported. It is also worth noting, though, that the data used to develop these rankings does not disaggregate by ethnicity.

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