Israel has climbed 12 places in the United Nations' Development Project's Human Development Index (HDI), reaching 15th place in the newly published Index for 2010. This is the first time in Israel's history that it has ranked so high on the HDI, placing above Italy, Britain and Singapore.
The HDI includes 169 countries worldwide. The top 10 countries in the 2010 HDI are Norway, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, Lichtenstein, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and Germany. At the bottom of the rankings are Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and – in last place – Zimbabwe.
The region with the fastest HDI progress in the past 40 years is East Asia, which is led by China and Indonesia. Arab countries also posted major gains, with 8 of the 20 world leaders in HDI improvement since 1970.
Looking at changes that took place in the last four decades in 135 countries – which house 92% of the world’s population – the report shows that average life expectancy rose from 59 to 70 years, primary school enrollment grew from 55 to 70 percent, and per capita income doubled to more than US$10,000.
While the report was originally intended to help the UN gauge the countries in greatest need of UN support, it also serves world economic bodies in assessing where to make financial investments. The report is the latest in a series of international assessments that see Israel's economy as one of the world's most stable. The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer, was recently designated as the number-one national bank governor in the world by British magazine EuroMoney. Fischer also received a perfect score as bank governor in a rating by the economic magazine Global Finance – for the second year in a row.