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10/4/08

The World Bank's 'Human Opportunity Index' report is very impressive


On Thursday October 2nd, the World Bank published a report on 19 Latin American counties called the "Human Oppotunity Index." (HOI). The HOI attempts to show how socioeconomic circumstances in Latin America mean that people from different backgrounds suffer the "unlevel playing field" of future opportunity, especially children. Of course we've always known this to be the case, but what this report does is to empirically quantify the problem for the first time ever. This will allow governments, social services and national/international organizations to hone their efforts and get maximum bang-per-buck in the future.

You can get your free copy of the full report on this link right here. It's long (the download is 4Mb, the overview is 23 pages long and its main content is 120 pages long, so be prepared). However be clear; it's absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in LatAm social issues. It's an outstanding and innovative report, and the World Bank team who put it together should be warmly congratulated. Also, visit the World Bank page on the study right here, and also check out its LatAm HOI interactive map on this link here. All very good stuff.

I'm under no illusion, and a big report like this isn't going to be the most popular download this site has ever offered. However this is an important study, and if just one person reads it via this post, I'll be happy. For example, did you know that 100% of people who are disadvantaged by socioeconomic factors in Brazil and Peru come from ethnic minorities? That and ten thousand other facts await you.

I'll leave you with the blurb from the World Bank page to get you more interested. I hope you read the report, and once again congratulations to the World Bank team.

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Between one fourth and one half of income inequality observed among Latin America and the Caribbean adults is due to personal circumstances endured during childhood that fell outside of their control or responsibility, such as race, gender, birthplace, parent’s educational level and their father’s occupation. These circumstances reveal the level of inequality of opportunity in the region

The new Human Opportunity Index, developed by a Group of economists from the World Bank, Argentina and Brazil, shows how personal circumstances play in gaining or preventing access to those services needed for a productive life, such as running water, sanitation, electricity or basic education among children in the region. This opens up a whole new field of study dedicated to designing public policy focused on equity.