by Elton Gomes
India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to a study on human capital conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). India is ranked behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list. The US occupies 27th spot in the list, while China has been placed at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
The study is touted as a first of its kind, and India ranks 158 out of 195 countries and territories. The study was conducted by analyzing data from numerous sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems. The study was conducted over a 26-year period between 1990 and 2016.
The rankings in the study are based on four key parameters: life expectancy, years of schooling, learning, and functional health. Each of these parameters is further based on different indices. For instance, one of the factors on which learning ranks are based is “performance on international student assessment standards.” In the same way, health rankings are based on seven indicators, such as wasting, stunting, anaemia, cognitive impairment, vision loss, hearing loss, and incidence of certain infectious diseases.
What are the study’s findings?
The study has been published in the Lancet and was conducted at the request of the World Bank. It is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”.
The study highlights the statement that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows. “Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP — which policy-makers ignore at their own peril,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director, IHME at the University of Washington.
“As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies,” Murray said, the Hindu reported.
What does it say about India?
The report showed that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce. This could potentially have long-term effects on the Indian economy.
The report further noted that though Indians are spending an additional four years in school, thanks to various government programs, the country has the second lowest score for education quality in South Asia in 2016. India’s learning score is 66 out of a possible 100. It is ranked just ahead of Afghanistan who scored 64. This clearly sheds light on how issues like lack of teachers and infrastructure and poor training are plaguing India.
In terms of healthcare metrics for India, Indians are expected to live an extra five years between the age of 20-64. The country’s functional health score has also improved from 36 in 1990 to 43 in 2016. However, the Indian workforce is the unhealthiest in South Asia. This could be attributed to poor access to healthcare and a relatively high presence of diseases such as malaria, HIV, and TB.
Which country has topped the list? Which ones have shown improvement?
The report places Finland at the top, while Turkey has shown the most dramatic increase in human capital. In Asia, countries such as China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam showed improvement. Meanwhile in Latin America, Brazil stood out for its improvement. The IHME said that all these countries depicted a faster economic growth than peer countries who have lower levels of human capital improvement.
India should spend more on health care
The report’s numbers for healthcare in India seem to be a significant cause of concern. More importantly, India lags behind other countries in terms of its GDP spent on healthcare.
India spends only 1.2 percent of its GDP on healthcare. India ranks lower than Singapore, which has one of the lowest public health expenditures in the world at 2.2 percent amongst countries with significant United Health Care (UHC) services.
With 55 million Indians falling below the poverty line in a single year due to heavy medical expenses and little help from the government, the poor have very little choice in terms of public and private healthcare systems. The Indian government recently launched the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme, but it seems unlikely that the scheme might rid India of its healthcare problems.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius