1992-2016: 15 Post-Soviet Republics: HDI

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The modern paradigm of civilization progress assumes the transition from the dominance of the economic growth and the increase in the outputs to the understanding of these processes as the prerequisites for the achievement of the main goal – the human potential development for the benefit of people and their forces. The acceptance of this postulate by the international community means the need the change the priorities in the social and economic strategies, it’s corresponding scientific, information, and methodological provision (Hirai, 2017, p. 11). In addition, the main goal of the development of society is formed in the creation of the environment promoting the possibility for people to enjoy a long, healthy, and creative life. People compose the main wealth of the nation. Therefore, the main criterion in the assessment of the state achievements includes not only the dynamics of the national income estimated by the GDP per capita but also the human development potential measured by the human development index (HDI) (Klugman, Rodriguez & Choi, 2011, p. 250). The HDI is a complex concept and the system of the definite indicators necessary for the quantitative and qualitative standard of human life in any country, which will cover more than the definition of the satisfaction of the basic human needs, income per capita, and the availability of resources (Dervis & Klugman, 2011, p. 75). Kovacevic (2011) states that it is also necessary to pay attention to the factors characterizing the degree of freedom, dignity, and activity in public life. The simplicity of calculations and improvement of the HDI parameters will allow the governments to use them as the tool for the measurement of the country’s welfare and human potential (Kovacevic, 2011, p. 5). Therefore, the main subject of my research includes the possible changes to the HDI concept for the adequate measurement of real human development.

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For the previous twenty-five years, the countries of the former USSR had endured enormous transformations. The trajectories of these transformations in many respects show the dependence on Soviet development (Kuitto, 2016, p. 20). However, these countries were not “blocked” in the past and undertook reforms containing serious innovations (Castles & Obinger, 2008, p. 323). The state of welfare in the post-Soviet countries was formed under the influence of the complex combination of various factors among which there is the leveling heritage of the communistic system, the revived elements of the conservative social insurance, the influence of the liberal tendencies introduced by the international financial institutions, and the other factors caused by globalization (Tomka, 2009, p. 23; Lauristin, 2011, p. 10; Kuitto, 2016, p. 23). The reforms in these countries led to the reduction of the role of a state in the social sphere, its liberalization, and the reduction of the redistribution volumes. However, the Baltic countries rapidly develop and gravitated toward Europe.

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The trajectories of the development of the USSR countries were different, varying from the radical liberalization up to the preservation of the etatist model. The social sector suffered from the sharp economic downturn, and the implementation of the reforms was slowed down due to the weakness of the post-Soviet states (Lauristin, 2011, p. 11; Dervis & Klugman, 2011, p. 79). The badly operated liberalization of the social sector, the sharp reduction of the role of the state in the maintenance of public welfare, and the broad development of the shadow relations in the social sphere became the specific features of the reforms in these countries (Castles & Obinger, 2008, p. 328; Tomka, 2009, p. 17). Many social indicators still indicate the low level of production of social benefits. However, the future will undoubtedly bring further changes in the welfare modes in the post-Soviet space and will enhance the intercountry distinctions.

In the countries of the former USSR, the social sphere was restored much more slowly and more unevenly than in the other European countries. There are social institutes of different types from the radical liberal in Kazakhstan to the state one in Belarus (Kuitto, 2016, p. 32). In the post-Soviet countries, except for Belarus, the share of the social expenses in GDP remained significantly lower than in the Baltic countries, and the private expenses forced out the public much more (Starineca & Voronchuk, 2015, p. 187). In Kazakhstan, for example, the system of production and distribution of social benefits was reconstructed by the liberal model. The participation of the state in the production and distribution of social benefits was considerably reduced, both in the absolute and relative indexes (Klugman, Rodriguez & Choi, 2011, p. 252). In Belarus, on the contrary, the state of the social sphere was preserved. Despite the state’s attempts to undertake some liberal reforms, the Soviet system of production and distribution of social benefits remained. All these factors essentially influenced the HDIs in the post-Soviet countries.

However, the Baltic countries donated several times more than the other USSR republics had the grounds for successful development in all spheres, including the development of human potential. According to Aidukaite (2010), the development of the Baltic countries in the post-Soviet era was rushing, resulting in the economic boom from 2000 to 2006. Being called the “Baltic Tigers,” the Baltic countries developed as fast as China (Aidukaite, 2010, p.13). Despite the crisis of 2008 and the worsening of both economic and human development indicators, the Baltic countries still show a high human potential level, which is much higher than in neighboring Russia and Belarus (Tomka, 2009, p. 19). Moreover, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia build the industry again; they do not revive the Soviet enterprises but created new ones.

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For the quarter of the century after the collapse of the USSR, not only the new generation grew but also the Baltic countries gained a vast experience of the economic construction, both progress, and failures (Lauristin, 2011, p. 22). The countries are ready for new levels of economic and human development. They develop informational technologies as well as human potential, considering the former to be the main assets (Aidukaite, 2010, p.16). Such a rough difference in the development of the Baltic countries and the other post-Soviet countries is caused by the specifics of their regions, the close location to Europe, the more developed economic base left after the USSR, and the constant support of the human development.

However, it is necessary to realize that the overall conventional meaning of the HDI works for the Baltic states, and it is essentially important to change the concept of the HDI to adequately measure real human development. The HDI gives only a general idea about the separate key parameters of the social condition (Hirai, 2017, p. 17). In the HDI concept, not the ability to the productive work, which is shown through economic growth, but also the development of a person through the expansion of the choice possibilities due to such components as longevity based on a healthy lifestyle, knowledge (education), the worthy standard of living (income) prevails (Kovacevic, 2011, p. 7; United Nations Development Programme, 2014). Apart from that, this index is not comprehensive, in particular, such important components as respect for human rights, democratic freedoms, and social equality are not included in it. Therefore, it is essentially important to review the HDI from the point of view of its criteria and factors determining its measurement.

Although the HDI represents a useful reference point, it is important to remember that the human development concept is wider and more complex than any cumulative measurements, capable of reflecting it even if they are supported by the other indicators (Dervis & Klugman, 2011, p. 82). To receive the ideal indicator, it is necessary to consider numerous factors, such as the income distribution between the sectors of society, the earlier saved up a property, the conditions of the use of the land resources, the crediting system, the development of infrastructure and the mechanism of the access to the public funds (health care, education, transport, utilities, etc.), individual lifestyle, the benefits made in a household, the natural and ecologic conditions, etc. (Kovacevic, 2011, p. 13; United Nations Development Programme, 2014).

Moreover, the HDI includes only a part of the problems of a person and society, such as the imperfect education system, a low life expectancy, and a low GDP per capita. However, there are several qualitatively certain “ threats,” like the primitive systems of science and technologies, archaic management principles and organization, and difficulties in the cultural development of different countries (Starineca & Voronchuk, 2015, p. 190). It is also necessary to consider the variety of personal opportunities.

If the HDI concept were changed, and all the above-mentioned factors into consideration, the high positioning of the Baltic states in the HDI rating would change. The detailed analysis and the profound consideration of all factors and the opportunities offered to the personal development of people would allow the countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle Asian countries to lead in the HDI list (Klugman, Rodriguez & Choi, 2011, p. 267). Because they provide their citizens with more opportunities for development, considered by the means of the new detailed analysis, the East European countries would take higher positions than they currently have.

I would propose to make some changes to the HDI concept, adding the important factors, such as the distribution of income, property, land resources, infrastructure, ecological conditions, and the possibilities for personal development for people. The consideration of these factors would give a clearer picture of the HDI positioning and essentially change the current situation. The new HDI rating would positively affect the development of the human potential in the world, and, in particular, in the countries, taking the middle rating in the HDI list.

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