Human Development Index (HDI) Rankings in South & Central America

Compared to greater South Asia (mapped in a previous post), South & Central America has relatively high levels of human development, as well as fewer disparities between countries. The basic spatial pattern is clear: higher levels of HDI in the “Southern Cone” (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay) and in southern Central America (Panama and Costa Rica), and lower levels in northern Central America and Guyana. Venezuela still has a moderately high ranking, but it has been dropping, declining from 0.777 in 2013 to 0.711 in 2019. Venezuela is mapped here in the same category as Bolivia and Paraguay, whereas until recently in had a comfortable lead over both countries. Presumable, this downward trajectory continues.


Owing to the relatively small HDI gaps among countries in this region, I have revised the initial map by making a finer level of distinction. The same general patterns hold, although here Venezuela drops into a category below that of Paraguay. On this map, unlike the preceding one, Argentina and Chile fall into the same slot, as their HDI figures are very close (0.845 for Argentina and 0.851 in Chile in 2019).




As Brazil is roughly the same size as the rest of South America, it is useful to break it down into its constituent states. As can be seen on this map, Brazilian HDI levels are higher than average in the far south (Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina) and southeast (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states), and lower in the north. But the disparities in these numbers across Brazil are much lower than they had previously been, as is evident in the final map posted here. This map also shows major human developmental gains across the country in the first nineteen years of the century. A similar trend is holds for almost all countries of the region. But while Latin America has experienced major strides in human development, its economic growth has stalled out over the past decade, resulting in massive dissatisfaction and a strong turn against incumbents in political contests.

Human Development Index (HDI) Rankings in South & Central America Read More »