Why Morocco is falling in the world ranking of human development

After a year of suspension due to the health crisis, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has recently resumed its annual report on the human development index (HDI) in the world. This version of 2021-2022, published on September 8, assesses the development trajectory for two years, 2020 and 2021. And thus provides a reading of impact of the Covid crisis on human development in different countries of the world.

Morocco, which was ranked 122 out of 191 countries in the last ranking, fell one place this year. The Kingdom is not an isolated case, as the report rightly points out, as more than 90% of the world’s countries have seen it. minus their score between 2020 and 2021.

The value of the global human development index fell in these two years, effaceas the document points out, Earnings earned in the last five years. What turns the planet back in the level of human development in the year 2016.

Morocco has withstood the Covid crisis better than many other countries, but it remains misclassified. And this is from before the crisis sanitary. On the contrary, if we analyze the data of the HDI report, it seems that the Kingdom has resisted more than other countries that are more armed, richer.

France therefore lost two places in the standings, falling from 26th to 28th place. Ditto for Spain, which fell two places (from 25th to 27th place). The United States, the world’s leading power, fell from 17th to 21st place, down four places. A similar downgrade in the United Arab Emirates which lost five places, now ranked 31st.

As for Morocco, its decline is justified, like most countries in the world, rich, emerging or poor.

The decline in Morocco is due to deteriorating health and average income

The UNDP HDI is based on three composite indices, which are confirmed by economists and specialists in the field, Larabi Jaidi. These indexes provide information on three things: health, education, standard of living. To assess these areas, UNDP uses life expectancy at birth, average years of schooling and gross national income per capita.

Of these three sub-indicators that enter the calculation of the HDI, Morocco falls in two, as shown in the country’s data, which can be consulted on the UNDP website:

Average life expectancy : it fell from 74.3 years in 2019 to 73.9 years in 2020, then rose again to 74 years in 2021. In 2020 and 2021, Moroccans thus lost three months of life on average. This is a direct consequence of Covid.

Gross national income per capita : from 7,398 US dollars in 2019 to 6,882 dollars in 2021, to return to the approximate pre-crisis level (7,303 dollars in 2021), thus following the country’s growth trajectory. A jagged trajectory, with a sharp recession in 2020, the year of restraint, and the recovery in 2021 that erases the losses of the previous year.

The third sub-index (average length of schooling) remains unchanged, at 5.9 years in 2020 and 2021, despite the effects of the health crisis in the education sector.

That is why in terms of health and economic growth Morocco is weak. This resulted in its HDI dropping and losing a place in the world ranking.

Why are countries at war better ranked than Morocco?

However, despite these clarifications, the UNDP classification itself remains contested and the methodology followed criticized.

A methodology that means that a country like Iraq (121st), which has been plagued by chaos for many years, ranks better than Morocco, a stable country. Ditto for Libya, a country torn apart in the last ten years by civil war and political tensions, but it ranks 104th, 19 places better than Morocco.

So many consider this classification irrelevant, because common sense would dictate that a citizen of the world who has the option of going and living in one of these three countries, chooses without thinking of Morocco because of its political and economic stability. . But the fact that these countries are oil producers and therefore have a High GDP per capita than in Morocco, the data and the overall ranking are skewed.

Especially when we know, as Professor Larabi Jaidi pointed out, that the three composite indicators have the same weight in the HDI calculation.

All countries challenge their ranking

But all this remains, according to him, a false debate: “In fact, all countries dispute their classification. While this ranking simply gives you a range of size that allows you to see progress or regression done in the three most important areas of human development: health, education and standard of living. This is a look at specific indicators that allow you to focus on areas where you are improving compared to other countries, and vice versa. This is a lesson for our public policy of human development”, explained the economist and researcher of the Policy Center for the New South.

“The relevance or not of the HDI is a false debate. We must come out of this prism of reading to give the HDI of the UNDP its own dimension: a simple measure the three indicators over time, nothing else. Furthermore, even the statistics used in this report were not produced by UNDP; these are official data issued by the national statistical bodies of each country”, added our expert.

The interest of this report, especially in 2022, is to show us this global failure of human development due to a pandemic. It gives us lessons and lessons for our public policies.

“Argument is meaningless. The most important thing is to see what we are ahead of and what we are behind. True, health is now measured only by life expectancy at birth, a simplistic definition that the UNDP itself questions, but the report is enriched with other indicators, such as healthy life expectancy to better appreciate the level of health improvement. and social protection sector in each country. This is also the case with a set of indicators highlighted in the report, such as the gender approach, the adjustment of the HDI in relation to inequalities, as well as other elements of appreciation of human development. , based on the concept of vulnerability, strength and a sense of uncertainty”, explained Larabi Jaidi.

But if the UNDP has these indices that can better show the state of human development in each country, why is it content with the static calculation of HDI based only on GDP per capita, life expectancy and length of education? For Larabi Jaidi, this is an old debate, and each sign is itself a subject of debate. Ditto for the weight of each sub-indicator, which is also debatable.

Our expert explained that these new indicators were not included because of what he called “the paradox of composite indicators”.

“Human development is a complex subject. As you integrate new elements, it becomes more complex, and we have an average that hides twenty or thirty sub-indicators. We lose in the end explain and we don’t know what is really hidden in this common. This is why UNDP has kept these three indicators, which have also improved. Education used to be approached by illiteracy, an indicator that is strongly contested, especially in Morocco. Now, they have migrated in terms of schooling. But they want to keep the index in three compositions because it makes sense. It is known that they set other indicators for those who want to improve the reflection of human development in their country”, specified Larabi Jaidi.

Education, Morocco’s Achilles heel

Clearly, if Morocco wants to improve its HDI ranking, it knows what needs to be done: improve the life expectancy of its population, the average duration of schooling of its children and the average income every person. It is precisely the three areas that are at the heart of the report of the commission on the New Development Model (education and health reform, acceleration of annual GDP growth to 6%).

But the great defect that Morocco is dragging when we analyze and compare its HDI with the countries of the region, remains education. The average duration of schooling in the Kingdom is roughly 5.9 years, while it is 7.9 years in Iraq (112th); 8.7 years in Lebanon (112th place); 7.6 years in Libya (104th); 9.6 years in Egypt (97th); 7.4 years in Tunisia (97th) or 8.6 years in Turkey (48th).

Larabi Jaidi said that the problem of dropping out of school continues to weigh on Morocco’s HDI, especially in rural areas.

Comparing a country like Philippines more significant, since it has the same level of per capita income as Morocco, but surpasses it in ranking (116th) due to the particular indicator of the duration of schooling. In the Philippines, a child stays in school for an average of 9 years compared to almost 5.9 years in Morocco. It weighs the balance in favor of this Asian country despite the fact that the life expectancy at birth of Filipinos is 69.3 years, four years less than that of Moroccans.

The current education reform led by Minister Chakib Benmoussa is aimed at precisely combating this phenomenon of dropping out of school that is consuming the country. With the generalization of social protection to all citizens, which will prolong life, it is certain that Morocco will gain more places in the future in this UNDP ranking. If these reforms succeed…

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