This Website is dedicated to the modern concept of Human Security, in which national security is put into its rightful perspective as one component of the broader picture: How well are people doing, at home, in their communities, countries, and the world?
The Human Security Index (HSI) covers 232 countries, and is intended to represent the recent-to-current situation. Though presented in the spirit of the Human Development Index (HDI) it is not currently intended to become an annual publication. After all, societies rarely change so quickly (unless blasted by natural disaster, war or other major impact, in which case good indicators are unlikely to quickly characterize such change) for annual updates to be meaningful.
1. Background: HSI Release
The HSI is a result of over 25 years of indicator development. It was first publicly released at the (GIS-IDEAS 2008) Conference “Towards a Sustainable and Creative Humanosphere.” A refined version (direct link to the pdf ) was published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in 2009. HSI Version 2 was released in 2010. Data, documentation, and maps appear on this Website.
Since 1990, the Human Development Index has revolutionized discussions about human development. However, it has suffered from two deficiencies, which can now be mitigated:
- geographic incompleteness (addressed on the “HDI” tab above) and
- opportunities for more perceptiveness on the economic, environmental, and social situations of people (addressed here by the Human Security Index).
Steady advances in characterizing different aspects of the human condition have resulted in indicators, covering increasing numbers of countries, on a wide variety of subjects. Thus, if one were challenged to create an index on people-centric Human Security, such as the authors of the Human Development Report discussed qualitatively in 1994, one may now begin to do so – thus the HSI.
Components of the HSI
- Economic Fabric Index:
- GDP per capita, adjusted for pricing (the term is “at purchasing power parity”)
- Equality of income distribution (did the money get into only a few pociets, or did it reach most people?)
- Financial-Economic Governance (risk of hardship through unsustainable trade or debt, or from catastrophic health care governance disaster).
- Environmental Fabric Index:
- Environmental Vulnerability
- Environmental protection (clean water, etc.), policies & deliveries
- Environmental sustainability
- Social Fabric Index
- Education and info empowerment
- Protection of, and benefits from, diversity
- Governance, including protection from official or illegal corrupt practices
- Food security
- Economic Fabric: The Gini Coefficient of income (in)equality shows the USA to have the least-equitable income distribution of so-called “developed” economies. According to Bureau of the Census figures, income equality peaked in 1968, and has declined consistently since then – now into its seventh presidential administration of such decline. Economic and financial risk to Americans from persistent trade deficits, debt to foreign lenders, health-care paradigms, etc. are not the highest in the world, but are close.
- Environmental Fabric: Americans face a diversity of environmental threats (which are not always handled well) from natural disasters. plus governance and sustainability risk.
- Social Fabric: Peacefulness (including the world’s highest incarceration rate which exhibits large ethnic and gender bias), significant disparities in illiteracy and health “insurance” coverage, embarassing amounts of food insecurity, life expectancy figures below ~59 years (well below the national average for Togo) for Native Americans in some counties, decreasing life expectancy for women in about ~30% of counties, poor scores on “legal” corruption (practices which are permitted by law, but are generally considered as against the interests of the General Welfare – such as apparent campaign finance influence peddling) are examples of challenges.
- To improve access to the Human Security Index and its components;
- To encourage reasoned discussion on various complementary indicators in some topical components – such as fostering diversity, peacefulness, environmental protection, freedom from corruption, and information empowerment (such as on press effectiveness); and
- To foster discussion that can improve design, implementation and benefits of/from the HSI.
In short, the HSI can be considered as an “index of 30+ leading economic, environmental, and social indicators.”
“Development” is a broad package of good governance deliveries including peacefulness, fair circumstances to all people, and long-term sustainability. The data show that most countries have one or more relative strengths, and also one or more weaknesses. Indeed, no country ranks above .800 (on a 0-1.000 scale as in the Human Development Index) in every component of the HSI.
This work indicates that economies which most heavily emphasize short-term GDP-oriented “economic growth” may do so at the expense of other priorities, and are not necessarily highly developed societies. They may do less well at delivering overall economic, environmental or social fabric (including sustainability in any or all of these three arenas) to all their people. Such broader characteristics are arguably more important to peace-of-mind for all people than raw GDP per capita - especially for the middle class and below that benefit less from mere GDP aggrandizement.
For example, let’s look at the current largest economy, the USA. It is usually considered “developed.” Its Gross Domestic Product per capita ranks about 11th in the world. Its classic Human Development Index ranks ~30th of 232 countries (see the HDI tab above). But the USA finds itself ~140th of 232 ranked countries in Economic Fabric Index, ~179th in Environmental Fabric Index, ~99th in Social Fabric Index, and merely ~147th of 232 countries (yes, ~86th from the bottom) in the composite Human Security Index. So the USA currently sits as a relatively low-to-middle-rated society in delivering Human Security to its people.
So the USA currently sits as a relatively low-to-middle-rated society in delivering Human Security to its people.
How does the USA rank so low on the HSI, despite its high GDP? A detailed look at the data may show more problems; but let’s take a quick look here:
Because of its international clout, the USA could also be considered as a significant drag on Human Security elsewhere, such as where there may be increased crime in source countries, and transportation way-points, of its alleged various narcotics supply chains.
Several countries, such as several small island countries, and others such as the Baltic countries, Bhutan, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Poland and Slovenia do well with respects to presumed reference standards, such as the USA.
2. The purposes of this Website are:
“They said it couldn’t be done.” But here is a human security index, with profound thanks to the individuals and groups who
- Collected and shared increasingly perceptive, comprehensive, and useful datasets; others who
- Crafted and shared indicators on a diversity of topics related to overall human security; and others who
- Helped to formulate and enhance concepts of how human security itself could be characterized.