Thinking Aloud: The Darius Index, Samoa

June 12, 2014 by Darius 

[Three months ago I introduced the Darius Index, which aims to measure the discrepancy between a country’s wealth – as measured by GDP per capita – and what that country does with the money – as measured by the UN’s Human Development Index.  See]

The country with the second most positive score on the Darius Index is Samoa.  In other words, Samoa not only has a better human development score than its per capita GDP would suggest, it has the second-largest positive differential between its human development score and its per capita GDP.

Samoa is a small Pacific island nation of close to 200,000 people.  Its economy is based on agricultural exports, tourism, remittances, and development aid from other countries.  It isn’t immediately obvious why Samoa has such a positive score on the Darius Index:  both its GDP and human development are mediocre.  One bright spot is life expectancy: Samoans today live 12.8 years longer than they did in 1980.  Samoa also fares better on Transparency International’s corruption index than its similarly positioned neighbors of Fiji and Tonga, which may contribute to its ability to achieve comparable human development scores with a lower per capita GDP.  

In the future, climate change and rising sea levels are likely to be the gravest threat facing Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and other Pacific island nations.  Not much the Darius Index can do to help with that, unfortunately.

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