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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - PoUeoy, Reseach, and External Affairs WORKING PAPERS
Title Trends in social indicators and social sector financing
Volume WPS
Issue 0662
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1991
URL http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1991/05/01/000009265_3961001144840/Ren​dered/PDF/multi_page.pdf
Economic development, as measured by growth in per capita GDP, is strongly correlated with a large number of variables that try to capture the \"quality of life\" or welfare status of a population. Such variables include life expectancy, child and infant mortality, literacy, nutritional status, access to clean drinking water, availability of school and teachers, clinics and doctors, and so forth. Taking these correlations for granted, one can expect that on average the quality of life has improved tremendously over the past three decades since per capita GDP increased worldwide.\n\nYet, such an aggregated picture masks substantial regional differences in performance. Asian countries, for instance, showed a per capita growth rate of 5.7 per cent during the period 1980-89, while that of sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) declined by 0.3 per cent (most recent estimate from World Development Report). Did the social indicators of lining standards show a similar trend? Did infant mortality rates drop sharply in Asia and increase in Africa? Did the gains in life expectancy of the 1960s and 1970s erode in the 1980s? Are school enrollment ratios declining in stagnating countries, with apparently tragic consequences for future growth?\n\n\nThese and many related questions have been rassed, and answers have been suggested by many development specialists and institutions, most recently by the World Bank (World Development Report 1990) and UNDP (Human Development Report, 1990).\n\nThe purpose of this paper is to document the trends in s Al indicators for the past three decades. The paper will assess the evolution of those indicators in the 1980s, monitor their earlier development, and appraise the regional differences in achieving better living standards. As such an exercise is, undoubtedly, severely hampered by the lack of reliable information, assessing the quality of the data will be an essential part of this study. In addition, the paper will try to go to the original source and purge the data from any interpolation, extrapolation, and other \"fillers\".\n\nThe paper deals with social indicators per se (health, education, nutrition). but also with private consumption as the main economic indicator of well-being, and with government expenditures on the social sectors.\n

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