KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has scored a high 0.804 on the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) for 2018, placing it in the Very High Human Development category.
Malaysia, which scored 0.802 in 2017, placed 61st out of 189 countries in the index.
The UNDP said Malaysia’s ranking rose primarily due to an improved life expectancy average of 76 years versus 75.8 years in 2017; and a higher Per Capita Gross National Income at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of US$27,227 compared to US$26,555 in 2017.
“Between 1990 and 2018, Malaysia has shown steady progress in the human development index – from 0.644 to 0.804 – an increase of 24.9 per cent, reflecting an average annual increase of 0.80 per cent,” the UNDP’s 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) revealed.
Titled “Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century”, the 2019 HDR report was released in Bogota, Colombia, today.
Among others, the report noted that Malaysia’s life expectancy at birth increased by 5.1 years; mean years of schooling increased by 3.6 years; and expected years of schooling increased by 3.7 years; while its Per Capita Gross National Income (GNI) increased by about 167.6 per cent between 1990 and 2018.
Only two other Asean countries are categorised in the same Human Development category – Singapore and Brunei. The top five countries in the global HDI rankings are Norway (0.954), Switzerland (0.946), Ireland (0.942), Germany (0.939) and Hong Kong (0.939).
The report said that the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed the steepest rise in human development globally.
The region leads the world in access to broadband Internet, and is gaining on more developed regions in terms of life expectancy, education, and access to healthcare.
However, the Asia-Pacific continues to grapple with an ever-widening income gap and persistent inequalities in key elements of human development such as health, education, dignity and respect for human rights.
“Beyond these challenges, society is also becoming more vulnerable to new forms of inequalities, arising from disruptive technology and climate resilience.
“Inequality begins even before birth and can accumulate, amplified by the difference in health and education into adulthood. Policies to address it, therefore, must also start at or before birth, including investing in young children’s learning, health, and nutrition,” it said.
The report stated that policies to enhance productivity alone are not enough, as the growing market power of employers is linked to a declining income share for workers and thus, antitrust and other policies are key to addressing imbalances of market power.
The report argues that taxation cannot be looked at on its own, but should be part of a system of policies, including public spending on health, education, and alternatives to a carbon-intensive lifestyle.
More and more, domestic policies are framed by global corporate tax discussions, highlighting the importance of new principles for international taxation, to help ensure fair play, avoid a race to the bottom in corporate tax rates, especially as digitalisation brings new forms of value to the economy, and to detect and deter tax evasion. – Bernama