Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Iraq Does Poorly On U.N. Human Development Report

The United Nations Human Development Report of 2014 tried to rank countries in terms of living standards, inequality, gender, and poverty. The figures used were based upon several United Nations and World Bank reports. While not all countries were included in all the indexes the statistics give a good overview of the Middle East. Unfortunately for Iraq, due to years of wars and sanctions it did not do that well.

The first category was the Human Development Index (HDI), which assessed life expectancy, schooling, and income. Out of the 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Iraq was third to last in the HDI with a vale of 0.642. In comparison the top three countries were Saudi Arabia, 0.836, Qatar, 0.851, an Israel, 0.888. Only Morocco, 0.617, and Yemen, 0.500, did worse. Iraq did make a jump from 1980 however when its HDI value was 0.500

Human Development Index Value
Israel 0.888
Qatar 0.851
Saudi Arabia 0.836
United Arab Emirates 0.827
Bahrain 0.815
Kuwait 0.814
Libya 0.784
Oman 0.783
Lebanon 0.765
Iran 0.749
Jordan 0.745
Tunisia 0.721
Algeria 0.717
Egypt 0.682
Syria 0.658
Iraq 0.642
Morocco 0.617
Yemen 0.500

The first category included in the HDI was life expectancy. Iraq was second to last with an average of 69.4 years. Only Yemen did worse at 63.1 years. Qatar, 78.4 years, Lebanon, 80.0 years, and Israel, 81.8 years, were at the top. Again, Iraq did see improvement going from 60.0 years in 1980 to 69.4 years in 2013. Low life expectancy could point to poor health care services that would extend people’s lives.

Life expectancy
Israel 81.8 years
Lebanon 80.0 years
Qatar 78.4 years
United Arab Emirates 76.8 years
Bahrain 76.6 years
Oman 76.6 years
Tunisia 75.9 years
Saudi Arabia 75.5 years
Libya 75.3 years
Syria 74.6 years
Kuwait 74.3 years
Iran 74.0 years
Jordan 73.9 years
Egypt 71.2 years
Algeria 71.0 years
Morocco 70.9 years
Iraq 69.4 years
Yemen 63.1 years

The second HDI category was education. Again Iraq was towards the bottom with a mean of 5.6 years of schooling. Only Morocco, 4.4 years, and Yemen, 2.5 years, did worse. Israel, 12.5 years, Tunisia, 14.6 years, and Iran, 15.2 years, did the best. Despite Iraq’s low ranking it did have a large increase in schooling from a mean of 1.5 years in 1980 to 5.6 years in 2013. Still, Iraq was known for having one of the best education systems in MENA at one time, but wars, sanctions, and poor planning have undermined funding for and building of schools. This has led to huge overcrowding with nothing to say about the poor quality of education provided in Iraq.

Means years of schooling
Iran 15.2 years
Tunisia 14.6 years
Israel 12.5 years
Jordan 9.9 years
Bahrain 9.4 years
Qatar 9.1 years
United Arab Emirates 9.1 years
Saudi Arabia 8.7 years
Lebanon 7.9 years
Algeria 7.6 years
Libya 7.5 years
Kuwait 7.2 years
Oman 6.8 years
Syria 6.6 years
Egypt 6.4 years
Iraq 5.6 years
Morocco 4.4 years
Yemen 2.5 years

The final category included in the HDI was income. The United Nations used Gross National Income (GNI) based upon 2011 purchasing power parity rates. Here there was a change as Iraq was in the middle of North Africa and the Middle East with a GNI of $14,007 per year. Iran, Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen all did worse with the last making only $3,945. In contrast, the United Arab Emirates, $58,068, Kuwait, $85,820, and Qatar, $119,029, were at the top. Iraq almost tripled its GNI going from $5,128 in 1980 to $14,007 in 2013. Because Iraq and many other countries in MENA are oil dependent these figures are likely skewed higher then they actually are for many individuals.

Gross National Income per capita (2011 Purchasing Power Parity$)
Qatar $119,029
Kuwait $85,820
United Arab Emirates $58,068
Saudi Arabia $52,109
Oman $42,191
Bahrain $32,072
Israel $29,966
Libya $21,666
Lebanon $16,263
Iraq $14,007
Iran $13,451
Algeria $12,555
Jordan $11,337
Tunisia $10,440
Egypt $10,400
Morocco $6,905
Syria $5,771
Yemen $3,945

The second major index included in the U.N. report was the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index. The U.N. was concerned that the HDI overlooked differences within societies, so it calculated inequality figures for several countries and then subtracted that amount from its HDI value. This was meant to show how much was lost in development due to inequality. Only nine countries from the region were given a value, and Iraq was again towards the bottom.

Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index
Israel 0.780
Jordan 0.607
Lebanon 0.606
Egypt 0.518
Syria 0.518
Iraq 0.505
Iran 0.498
Morocco 0.433
Yemen 0.336
Algeria N/A
Bahrain N/A
Kuwait N/A
Libya N/A
Oman N/A
Qatar N/A
Saudi Arabia N/A
Tunisia N/A
United Arab Emirates N/A

The third major index dealt with women. First, the U.N. calculated a Gender Inequality Index value. Iraq had a high score of 0.542. Syria, 0.556, Egypt, 0.580, and Yemen, 0.733 were at the top of the list above Iraq. The country’s value was double that of five countries with the least inequality, which were Tunisia, 0.265, Bahrain, 0.253, the UAE, 0.244, Libya, 0.215, and Israel, 0.101.

Gender Inequality Index Value
Yemen 0.733
Egypt 0.580
Syria 0.556
Iraq 0.542
Qatar 0.524
Iran 0.510
Jordan 0.488
Morocco 0.460
Algeria 0.425
Lebanon 0.413
Oman 0.348
Saudi Arabia 0.321
Kuwait 0.288
Tunisia 0.265
Bahrain 0.253
United Arab Emirates 0.244
Libya 0.215
Israel 0.101

One part of the Gender Inequality Index value was based upon maternal mortality rates. Iraq was tied with Jordan for sixth most mothers dying during birth with 63 per 100,000 births. Morocco, 100 per 100,000, and Yemen, 200 per 100,000, did the worst. Israel and Qatar were at the top with just 7 deaths per 100,000 births. Again, this was another sign that many countries like Iraq lacked adequate health care. In rural areas women might not be going to hospitals and giving birth at home, which would increase the chances for complications and deaths.

Maternal Mortality Ratio per 100,000 Births
Israel 7
Qatar 7
Kuwait 14
United Arab Emirates 12
Bahrain 20
Iran 21
Saudi Arabia 24
Lebanon 25
Oman 32
Tunisia 56
Libya 58
Iraq 63
Jordan 63
Egypt 66
Syria 70
Algeria 97
Morocco 100
Yemen 200

Another part of the gender index was inequality in secondary education. The U.N. broke down male and female education rates looking at what percentages finished secondary school. When it came to female education Iraq was fourth from the bottom with 22.0%. In comparison, for men Iraq was fifth from the bottom at 42.7%. Yemen was at the very bottom with only 7.6% of women completing secondary school and 24.4% of men. Israel was at the top with 84.4% for women and 87.3% for men. Because women are not valued as much as men, and are expected to take care of home tasks they have a very low education rate in many MENA countries including Iraq.

Population with at least secondary education
Israel Female 84.4% Male 87.3%
Bahrain Female 74.4% Male 80.4%
United Arab Emirates Female 73.1% Male 61.3%
Jordan Female 69.5% Male 78.5%
Qatar Female 66.7% Male 59.0%
Iran Female 62.2% Male 67.6%
Saudi Arabia Female 60.5% Male 70.3%
Kuwait Female 55.6% Male 56.3%
Libya Female 55.6% Male 44.0%
Oman Female 47.2% Male 57.1%
Egypt Female 43.4% Male 59.3%
Lebanon Female 38.8% Male 38.9%
Tunisia Female 32.8% Male 46.1%
Syria Female 29% Male 38.9%
Iraq Female 22% Male 42.7%
Algeria Female 20.9% Male 27.3%
Morocco Female 20.1% Male 36.3%
Yemen Female 7.6% Male 24.4%

Obviously the low levels of secondary education would be repeated in the mean for years of schooling. Once more Iraq was at the bottom with a mean of only 4.4 years for women and 6.7 years for men in school. In contrast in Qatar, the UAE, and Israel women have a mean of over 10 years, while Jordan and Israel have a mean of over 10 years for men.

Mean Years of Schooling
Israel Female 12.6 years Male 12.5 years
United Arab Emirates 10.2 years Male 8.7 years
Qatar Female 10.1 years Male 8.7 years
Jordan Female 9.4 years Male 10.4 years
Bahrain Female 9.1 years Male 9.6 years
Saudi Arabia Female 8.0 years Male 9.2 years
Kuwait Female 7.9 years Male 6.8 years
Lebanon Female 7.6 years Male 8.2 years
Libya Female 7.5 years Male 7.5 years
Iran Female 7.1 years Male 8.6 years
Syria Female 6.1 years Male 7.1 years
Algeria Female 5.9 years Male 7.8 years
Tunisia Female 5.5 years Male 7.5 years
Egypt Female 5.3 years Male 7.5 years
Iraq Female 4.4 years Male 6.7 years
Morocco Female 3.2 years Male 5.6 years
Yemen Female 1.2 years Male 3.8 years
Oman N/A

The last factor in the gender index was labor force participation. In Iraq only 14.5% of women take part in the work force compared to 69.7% for men. Only Syria at 13.4% for women did worse. Even for men in the labor force Iraq was at the bottom with only Jordan, 66.2%, and Morocco, 57.4%, below it. Again, because many women are expected to do traditional work, they are not joining the labor force. This is a huge under utilization of possible workers. On the other hand, in Iraq and other oil dependent countries there are not enough jobs for either men or women, and many that are employed work for the government instead of the private sector.

Labor Force Participation Rate
Israel Female 58.1% Male 69.5%
Qatar Female 50.8% Male 95.6%
United Arab Emirates Female 46.6% Male 91.0%
Kuwait Female 43.4% Male 82.8%
Morocco Female 43.0% Male 57.4%
Bahrain Female 39.4% Male 87.2%
Libya Female 30.0% Male 76.4%
Oman Female 28.6% Male 81.1%
Yemen Female 25.2% male 71.8%
Tunisia Female 25.1% Male 70.6%
Egypt Female 23.6% Male 74.6%
Lebanon Female 22.8% Male 70.5%
Saudi Arabia Female 18.2% Male 75.5%
Iran Female 16.4% Male 73.1%
Jordan Female 15.3% Male 66.2%
Algeria Female 15.0% Male 71.9%
Iraq Female 14.5% Male 69.7%
Syria Female 13.4% Male 72.7%

Another issue included by the U.N. was the difference in life expectancy between men and women. In Iraq women outlive men 73.2 years versus 65.9 years. That was actually true for every country in the region. Female life expectancy in Iraq was fourth from the bottom and male life expectancy was the second worst in MENA.

Life Expectancy
Israel Female 83.6 years Male 79.9 years
Lebanon Female 82.3 years Male 78.1 years
Qatar Female 79.5 years Male 77.8 years
Tunisia Female 78.3 years Male 73.6 years
United Arab Emirates Female 78.2 years Male 76.1 years
Syria Female 77.8 years Male 71.8 years
Saudi Arabia Female 77.6 years Male 73.9 years
Bahrain Female 77.5 years Male 75.9 years
Libya Female 77.3 years Male 73.5 years
Iran Female 76.1 years Male 72.2 years
Jordan Female 75.6 years Male 72.3 years
Kuwait Female 75.5 years Male 73.5 years
Egypt Female 73.6 years Male 68.8 years
Iraq Female 73.2 years Male 65.9 years
Algeria Female 72.7 years Male 69.4 years
Morocco Female 72.2 years Male 69.1 years
Yemen Female 64.5 years Male 61.8 years
Oman N/A

The last part of the gender index was breaking down Gross National Income. In Iraq women had a GNI of $4,246 compared to $23,555 for men. Yemen with $1,775 for men and $6,080 for men, and Syria with $1,922 for women and $9,478 for men were at the bottom. At the top of the list was Qatar where women had a GNI of $45,863 and men $141,468. Again the huge differences between men and women pointed to the low paying jobs that most females were able to find in many nations. The figures can also be distorted because of large oil revenues and the size of the populations.

GNI Per Capita
Qatar Female $45,863 Male $141,468
Kuwait Female $43,134 Male $114,532
Israel Female $25,636 Male $35,402
Bahrain Female $24,531 Male $36,660
United Arab Emirates Female $23,903 Male $72,659
Saudi Arabia Female $16,197 Male $78,689
Libya Female $10,649 Male $32,678
Lebanon Female $7,199 Male $25,038
Tunisia Female $4.751 Male $16,226
Iraq Female $4,246 Male $23,555
Egypt Female $4,225 Male $16,522
Iran Female $4,159 Male $22,631
Algeria Female $3,695 Male $21,219
Morocco Female $3,215 Male $10.692
Jordan Female $2,875 Male $19,459
Syria Female $1,922 Male $9,478
Yemen Male $1,775 Male $6,080
Oman N/A

Only a few countries had poverty figures. The U.N. used statistics for Iraq from 2011 that had 7.4% of the population in near poverty, 2.5% in severe poverty, and 2.8% below the poverty line. Those are very low numbers, and hard to compare to the other countries because of the differing years their statistics are from.

Yemen (2006) Near Poverty 16.7% In Severe Poverty 18.4% Below Income Poverty Line 17.5%
Syria (2008) Near Poverty 8.6% In Severe Poverty 1.5% Below Income Poverty Line 1.7%
Egypt (2008) Near Poverty 8.6% In Severe Poverty 1.5% Below Income Poverty Line 1.7%
Iraq (2011) Near Poverty 7.4% In Severe Poverty 2.5% Below Income Poverty Line 2.8%
Jordan (2009) Near Poverty 4.1% In Severe Poverty 0.1% Below Income Poverty Line 0.1%
Tunisia (2011-12) Near Poverty 3.2% In Severe Poverty 0.2% Below Income Poverty Line N/A
Algeria N/A
Bahrain N/A
Iran N/A
Israel N/A
Kuwait N/A
Lebanon N/A
Libya N/A
Morocco N/A
Oman N/A
Qatar N/A
Saudi Arabia N/A
United Arab Emirates N/A

The United Nations report highlights many of the problems that Iraqi society suffers from. Despite its vast oil wealth, petroleum has been more of a curse than a benefit to Iraq. Years of wars and sanctions have set back the country’s infrastructure, which will take years to rebuild. Corruption also eats away at expenditures meaning that some of these problems may never be adequately solved. Traditions also keep half of the population, women, largely out of the work force and school. Then again, the lack of a vibrant private sector means that there are few jobs outside of the government. All of these issues are shown by the fact that Iraq does poorly on almost every category studied by the U.N.


United Nations Development Programme, “Human Development Report 2014 – Algeria,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Bahrain,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Egypt,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Iran,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Iraq,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Israel,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Jordan,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Kuwait,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Lebanon,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Libya,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Morocco,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Oman,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Qatar,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Saudi Arabia,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Syria,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Tunisia,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – United Arab Emirates,” 2015
- “Human Development Report 2014 – Yemen,” 2015

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