DL English|26 abr 2013, 12:00 AM|POR Diario Libre

Inequality hampers human development in Dominican Republic

A report by the UNDP stresses advances but notes the inequality
SANTO DOMINGO. The Dominican Republic is a country with a high capacity to generate income but a limited aptitude to redistribute them.

The latest report on World Human Development, presented yesterday by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), indicates how the country went down 15 positions on the Index of Human Development for Inequality, an indicator whose calculations take into consideration the inequality existing in terms of health, education and income. In this way, of the 132 countries listed, the Dominican Republic occupies position 79.

Nevertheless, in spite of the information, fundamental advances have been registered over the last 30 years. The report cites the fact that "the index of human development increased from 0.689 to 0.702 between 2011 and 2012, increasing one position in the world ranking of 189 countries, and occupying position 23 of the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean."

In addition, the increase in per capita income, the component which is most important in the growth of the human development index, is currently at US$8,506 in the Dominican Republic. This positions the country among the first three of the group of nations with the median human development.

In spite of this, the inequality in education and health hamper the advances that an improvement in the per capita income of the people might represent. This is because, according to the report, "as of 2012, persons over 25 years of age had completed an average of 7.2 years of basic education vis-à-vis an average of 8.8 years in the group of countries of high human development.

Other indicators

A communiqué relating to the report stressed that the Dominican Republic is one of three countries of Latin America and the Caribbean with the greatest gender inequality. In this country, only 19% of the congressional seats are occupied with women and the rate of participation in the work force of women is 51% against 78.6% for men.

Another indicator stressed that 4.6% of the Dominican population has more than three deficits in terms of multidimensional poverty, which could be years of education, enrollment, nutrition, infant mortality, fuel for cooking, access to good water, health environment, and electricity or conditions of the floor of the housing and having goods. "The birth rate in adolescents is still high," cites the report.

The world

In global terms, the World Report on Human Development 2013, whose focus is "the ascent of the southern countries," stresses that more than 40 developing countries have had advances in human development greater than those forecast over the last decades.

These achievements, according to the document, are attributed to the sustained investment in social, educational and health programs, and "to the open commitment with a world that is ever more interconnected."

"Equally, the southern countries are extending commerce, technology and political ties with all of the north," the report stresses.

Investment in education is seen as positive


The greater investment in education that the country (DR) has made as a result of the compliance with the General Education Law is estimated to positively impact the development levels that the Dominican Republic has for the long term.

In her participation of the presentation of the report, Valerie Julliand, the coordinator of the System of the United Nations and the Resident Representative of the UNDP in the country, said that this public policy can translate into increases such as the Index of Human Development what would place the Dominican Republic in the group of countries with the highest levels of human development in some 30 or 40 years.

In the meantime, there is a series of circumstances that need to be improved upon. Rita Mena, the coordinator of the Office of Human Development of the UNDP, noted that the levels of school attendance in the country are fairly low. In addition she observed that there is stagnation in the expected years of schooling because a child that enters a Dominican school is expected to stay there for 12 years. The number is higher than in other countries.

The average schooling in the country is 7 years, which is to say not even the complete primary education, according to the statistics presented by Mena.

Life expectation

In terms of health, the Dominican Republic has advanced, especially in relation to life expectation. Since a child born in 2012 can live 11 more years than if he had been born in 1980.

However, the Dominicans have between 5 and 7 fewer years of life expectation than if they were born in a country with more developed social indicators, as for example, Costa Rica.

"In the issue of health there are a lot of advances to be done. Advances tied to the little public investment in the country," said the coordinator.

She said that in addition to the fact that the public expenditures for health in the Dominican Republic is less than what is transferred to the electricity sector.

The road to success

The southern countries that have managed an improvement of their income and social indicators, notes the UNDP, have reached this state as the result of the common use of three driving forces which are: a pro-active, development minded state; taking advantage of world markets and the innovation of social policies.

"These driving forces are not derived from abstract conceptions about how development should work; in their place, it has been demonstrated by experiences of transformational development by many of the southern countries," cites the report that stresses in addition that the experiences of the countries bring into question the preconceived focuses and prescriptions and are opposed to the unlimited liberalization set forth by the Washington Consensus.
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