Middle-income countries in Europe and Central Asia have achieved unprecedented high living standards, says to the latest edition of the UNDP Human Development Report 2019, titled “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century”.
Thus, in the ranking of the Human Development Index, which is calculated using three indicators – life expectancy, literacy and living standards, the Central Asian countries were placed in three categories: Kazakhstan is in the very high human development group, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are among the countries with a high development, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan – in the medium development group of countries.
Interpreted from the statistical figures, this means, for example, that a child living in a country with a high HDI has a much higher chance of studying at university and getting a decent job than a peer living in a country with a low index.
However, the effects of climate change and technological disruption could be obstacles to progress in reducing uneven development, according to UN experts. Gaps in social protection, an unstable labor market, and the migration of young skilled labor force bring the problems of inequality in the region to the fore.
Despite the fact that the region occupies an average position in the world for investment in research and development, the ratio of employment of highly skilled and low-skilled personnel is lagging behind the most developed countries.
Historically, Europe and Central Asia have been characterized by low levels of inequality, but today the situation is negatively affected by the instability of labor markets. High informal employment in the countries of the region deprives people of social security – those who work without a contract, as a rule, do not receive social benefits and are at risk of poverty.
The report’s Gender Inequality Index shows that the region has the lowest level of inequality between men and women. However, the proportion of women is still low in the labour market. Inequality is still sharp in the power men and women exercise at home, in the workplace or in politics. At home women do more than three times as much unpaid care work as men.
Europe and Central Asia had the lowest overall loss of human development as a result of social and economic inequality of the population – only 11.7% compared to 20% in the world as measured by the Inequality Adjusted Human Development Index. The region has made significant progress in expanding tertiary education, approaching the developed countries.
It should be recognized that each of the countries of Central Asia for almost three decades of development as sovereign states have passed a rather complicated path of formation, not only economic, industrial, but also social. Dozens of national programs and strategies are being implemented in all Central Asian countries aimed at improving the well-being of the population, building up human potential and human capital.
The humanitarian dimension can also be a dividend area for intraregional cooperation. In particular, at the November Consultative summit in Tashkent, the leaders of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan expressed unity of opinion on the need to promote dialogue in specific priority areas, and above all in the full unlocking of the rich human potential of the region.
At the highest level, a commitment was made to promote and support interaction, exchanges and contacts in the fields of science and education, education, culture, art and sports, and support for youth.
Human Development Report
Human Development Reports have been published annually by UNDP since 1990 as an independent, analytical publication designed to draw the attention of policymakers to critical development issues, trends and measures.
The Human Development Report 2019 recommends the governments to review education and social security programmes and invest more in education, health and nutrition for the younger generation. Because such investments help to enhance individual’s welfare and further contribute to the increase of income and productivity in the labor market.