India ranks 158th in ‘human capital’ score, behind Sudan

Study ranks countries for their levels of spending on education and health care

September 25, 2018 09:22 pm | Updated 09:22 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Medical stethoscope on a pile of books.

Medical stethoscope on a pile of books.

India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital.

The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list. The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.

South Asian countries ranking below India in this report include Pakistan (164), Bangladesh (161) and Afghanistan (188). Countries in the region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Nepal (156), Bhutan (133) and Maldives (116).

The study, published in journal The Lancet, says that India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990. It showed that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the Indian economy. The study is based on analysis of data from sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.

Stimulating economy

The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the request of the World Bank, is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”. The study underscores that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows.

“Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP — which policy-makers ignore at their own peril,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director, IHME at the University of Washington. “As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies.’’

“Learning is based on average student scores on internationally comparable tests. Components measured in the functional health score include stunting, wasting, anaemia, cognitive impairments, hearing and vision loss, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis,” the study said

The study places Finland at the top. Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016; Asian countries with notable improvement include China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Within Latin America, Brazil stands out for improvement. All these countries have had faster economic growth over this period than peer countries with lower levels of human capital improvement.

In addition, the greatest increase among sub-Saharan African countries was in Equatorial Guinea.

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