A MANUSH or HUMANS Characterisation of the Human Development Index

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. (2018)




Displaced ideal, Hiatus sensitivity, MANUSH, Shortfall sensitivity, Uniform development


Proposing a set of axioms MANUSH (Monotonicity, Anonymity, Normalisation, Uniformity, Shortfall sensitivity, Hiatus sensitivity to level), this paper evaluates three aggregation methods of computing Human Development Index (HDI). The old measure of HDI, which is a linear average of the three dimensions, satisfies monotonicity, anonymity, and normalisation (or MAN) axioms. The current geometric mean approach additionally satisfies the axiom of uniformity, which penalises unbalanced development across dimensions. We propose ℋα measure, which for α ≥ 2 also satisfies axioms of shortfall sensitivity (emphases on the worse-off to better-off dimensions should be at least in proportion to their shortfalls) and hiatus sensitivity to level (higher overall attainment must simultaneously lead to a reduction in gap across dimensions). Special cases of ℋα are the linear average (α = 1), the displaced ideal (α = 2), and the leximin ordering (α → ∞) methods. For its axiomatic advantages, we propose to make use of the displaced ideal (α = 2) method in the computation of HDI replacing the current geometric mean