How free are we to be everything we could be?

The study of Human Development in developing nations goes beyond the use of traditional economic indicators to measure their progress or decline. It jumps off from the assertion that the wealth of a nation rests in the well-being of their people and their capacity to realise their full potential as its citizens.

A measure based on the concept of Human Development therefore is a good indicator of how successful a nation is at creating an environment worth living in.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regularly publishes its Human Development Report (HDR) to keep track of the efforts of nations to improve the quality of life of their citizens. The latest edition of the complete report can be downloaded here.

The figures used for the following charts were derived from this report. The cross-section taken includes the Philippines together with countries that we were originally comparable to as well as emerging countries that we will eventually have to compete against.

As shown above, we have fallen behind the countries that were our traditional competitors (Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand).

Although the Philippines is still ahead of the emerging countries of China and Vietnam, the development trends over the last two decades suggest that this lead is fast being eroded:

Note that the Philippines has the flattest line among the countries shown. China and Vietnam is set to overtake us in the next five years.

Soon the Philippines will have to be content with competing with the likes of Bangladesh and Cambodia.

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