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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds The social environment is a very broad one. It embraces many things, ranging from family values to religion and from language to culture and from health to education and crime and many more. What I’d like to do with you in this learning unit is to just touch on one or two social issues. One, of course, is human development. When all is said and done, human beings are probably very interested and concerned about their own level and speed of development. The word “development” means so many things to so many people, and there are many ways of measuring development. A well-known one is something called the “Human Development Index,” a very simple index that captures three variables.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds One of them is education, another one is life expectancy, and the third one, some measure of average income. And for many years, more than 30 years, countries have been measuring their human development, and that way we can track the progress, or lack thereof, made by the country. As a broad, a very broad generalization, we will find, not surprisingly, the countries in Western Europe, USA, Japan, and Australia have very high levels of human development. Not surprisingly, poorer countries, mainly in Africa, have fairly low levels of human development. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the lowest Human Development Index in the world. The 18 lowest values in the world are to be found in Africa. What, then, about South Africa?

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds We have a very interesting Human Development Index track record. Roughly speaking, the years leading up to about 1994, the HDI in this country improved. We reach level inaccessible 0.6 out of a possible one. That put us in a category of being a medium level of human development. But then after 1995, the Index value actually declined for the next 10 years. The reason for this, we soon discovered, was understandable. One of the ingredients of the HDI is life expectancy, and you will recall that around about 1995 HIV and AIDS became a big issue in South Africa. It’s still a big issue.

Skip to 2 minutes and 37 seconds And as a result of that, life expectancy declined and that dragged down this country’s HDI value until about the year 2005. Since then, it’s been creeping upwards again, and since then we have seen better rollout of antiretroviral therapy, and that has helped to extend life expectancy once more. Nonetheless, we still find that this country’s level of HDI is no higher than 20 years ago, and that is, frankly, rather disappointing. We also find that the country’s HDI ranking in the world is barely 120, 122, as opposed to the country’s economy being amongst the 30 largest. So we find this kind of mismatch between economic performance and broad developmental quality of life kind of performance.

Skip to 3 minutes and 29 seconds One suspects or one hopes in any case, that as the years go by, life expectancy will continue upward trajectory and thereby help us move up the ranks in terms of HDI.

Human development

Human beings are very interested and concerned about the level and speed at which they develop. Lets watch the video to learn more about human development.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the life expectancy rate growing every year.

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development