Good News for Central Asia in UN Human Development Index

Despite many challenges, it seems some measure of progress is being made across Central Asia.

In numerous international metrics systems, the states of Central Asia often trend together toward the lower rungs of the rankings. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, for instance, sees all five Central Asian states come in among the bottom third globally. Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, meanwhile, sees only Kyrgyzstan land within the top 100 nations, and only North Korea and Eritrea scoring worse than Turkmenistan.

As such, for those looking for some silver linings from the region, last week’s release of the UN’s Human Development Report, ranking jurisdictions by Human Development Index (HDI), was a welcome round of (relatively) good news for Central Asia. Melding a HDI score from a handful of metrics — average life expectancy, mean years of schooling, etc. — the latest report, which looks at data from 2015, places Central Asian developments in a far less deleterious light than rankings elsewhere.

Leading the Central Asian contingent in the rankings, unsurprisingly, is Kazakhstan. For the second year in a row, the UN has tabbed Kazakhstan as a country with a High Human Development, with the country coming in at 56th, tying with EU-member Bulgaria and landing just ahead of the Bahamas and Malaysia.

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But while Kazakhstan was the lone Central Asian state ranked among the “High” countries last year, Astana now has company. While Uzbekistan came a good way behind, at 105th globally, tied with the Maldives, this is nine slots higher than Uzbekistan’s rankings from the year prior. Buoyed by increasing numbers across the board, it seems the recent, relative domestic thaw may not be the only good news greeting the country in 2017. Elsewhere, Turkmenistan comes in at 111th, a few slots lower than its prior position at 109th, while Kyrgyzstan…

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