UN Human Development Report 2009

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UN report: “Best” countries should improve opportunities for migration
Citizens of Norway, Australia and Iceland had the best standard of living, according to the 2009 UN Development Report, which also urged destination countries to improve opportunities for migration by amending restrictive policies. Migrants from the least advantaged countries, the war- and disease-ravaged sub-Saharan African nations, see their incomes increase by 15-fold, double their enrollment rates in school and see child mortality cut by 16-fold, according to the report. CBC.ca (Canada) (10/5), Reuters (10/4)
Canada fourth best place to live: UN survey
Norway tops UN human development index
(Global News) PARIS – Norway takes the number one spot in the annual United Nations human development index released Monday, while Canada ranks fourth in the list.
The top ten countries listed on the index are: Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan.
The index compiled by the UN Development Program (UNDP) ranks 182 countries based on such criteria as life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.
UN report calls for ‘new deal’ for migrant workers
Paris, Oct 5 (AFP) Governments worldwide should look at changes to their immigration policies with a view to offering a “new deal” to migrant workers whose skills can help spur economic recovery, a UN report said today.
Wealthy countries with ageing populations in particular are likely to face an increase in demand for expatriate labour as they pull out of recession, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the report.
Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development
Migration, both within and beyond borders, has become an increasingly prominent theme in domestic and international debates, and is the topic of the 2009 Human Development Report (HDR09). The starting point is that the global distribution of capabilities is extraordinarily unequal, and that this is a major driver for movement of people. Migration can expand their choices —in terms of incomes, accessing services and participation, for example— but the opportunities open to people vary from those who are best endowed to those with limited skills and assets. These underlying inequalities, which can be compounded by policy distortions, is a theme of the report.
The report investigates migration in the context of demographic changes and trends in both growth and inequality. It also presents more detailed and nuanced individual, family and village experiences, and explores less visible movements typically pursued by disadvantaged groups such as short term and seasonal migration.
There is a range of evidence about the positive impacts of migration on human development, through such avenues as increased household incomes and improved access to education and health services. There is further evidence that migration can empower traditionally disadvantaged groups, in particular women. At the same time, risks to human development are also present where migration is a reaction to threats and denial of choice, and where regular opportunities for movement are constrained.
National and local policies play a critical role in enabling better human development outcomes for both those who choose to move in order to improve their circumstances, and those forced to relocate due to conflict, environmental degradation, or other reasons. Host country restrictions can raise both the costs and the risks of migration. Similarly, negative outcomes can arise at the country levels where basic civic rights, like voting, schooling and health care are denied to those who have moved across provincial lines to work and live. HDR09 shows how a human development approach can be a means to redress some of the underlying issues that erode the potential benefits of mobility and/or force migration.
Human Development Report challenges common migration misconceptions
Allowing for migration—both within and between countries—has the potential to increase people’s freedom and improve the lives of millions around the world, according to the 2009 Human Development Report launched here today.
We live in a highly mobile world, where migration is not only inevitable but also an important dimension of human development. Nearly one billion—or one out of seven—people are migrants. The Report, Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development, demonstrates that migration can enhance human development for the people who move, for destination communities and for those who remain at home.
“Migration can be a force for good, contributing significantly to human development,” says United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark. “But to realize its benefits, there needs to be a supportive policy environment as this Report suggests.”
Indeed, migration can raise a person’s income, health and education prospects. Most importantly, being able to decide where to live is a key element of human freedom, according to the Report, which also argues that large gains in human development can be achieved by lowering barriers and other constraints to movement and by improving policies towards those who move.
However, migration does not always bring benefits. The extent to which people are able to gain from moving depends greatly on the conditions under which they move. Financial outlays can be relatively high, and movement inevitably involves uncertainty and separation from families. The poor are often constrained by a lack of resources, information and barriers in their new host communities and countries. For too many people movement reflects the repercussions of conflict, natural disaster or severe economic hardship. Some women end up in trafficking networks, lose significant freedoms and suffer physical danger.
This is the latest publication in a series of global Human Development Reports, which aim to frame debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity, from climate change to human rights. It is an independent report commissioned by UNDP. Jeni Klugman is the lead author of the 2009 Report.

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