Edited by Jan Peil and Irene van Staveren
Chapter 31: Human Development
Des Gasper ‘Human development’ language and the UNDP The language of ‘human development’ spread gradually within the circles of national and international development policy and planning from the 1970s onwards. It acquired its definitive form in the 1990s in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Reports. These publications defined human development as an extension of people’s capabilities, the range of alternatives that they can attain and have reason to value. The initiator of the Human Development Reports was the Pakistani development economist and planner Mahbub ul Haq (1934–98). Haq had been an apostle of overriding priority being given to economic growth and industrialization when he was a leading official in Pakistan’s Planning Commission in the 1960s. He observed there, however, that despite economic growth of 6–7 per cent per annum throughout the decade priority aspects of human welfare went untouched. Social tensions in Pakistan brought the disintegration of the country in 1971, and hobbled its growth for the next decade. As director of the World Bank’s Policy Planning Department through the 1970s, Haq gradually widened his conception of development, in consultation with a global network of academics and policymakers. Within the World Bank he promoted a focus on basic needs, viewed as food, water, clothing, shelter, health and education. In retrospect that work on basic needs came to be seen as having at least six fundamental limitations. The first is its preoccupation with material inputs rather than more broadly with how people can live. The second is...
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