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Life Expectancy as a Development Indicator: Liaoning Province, China, 2000

Date

2011-09-18

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Degree Level

Masters

Abstract

The need to measure and compare development among or through countries and regions has led in recent years to the proliferation of numerous development indicators. Emerging from conventional one-dimensional economic, social, and health indicators, the Human Development Index (HDI) as a composite indicator, has drawn the attention of researchers and administrators alike. For China the HDI is available at national and provincial levels only, while at the sub-provincial level, for prefectures specifically, it has almost never been applied. Since its introduction the HDI has been plagued with doubts on its own methodology. This thesis shows that the HDI, in fact, does not provide any significant further information beyond that provided already by its composing indicators, namely, GDP per capita and life expectancy. The thesis shows, furthermore, that in China the HDI has no meaningful policy implication, because its numeric value disguises differences in education, economics, and health. It is likely for this reason, as well as due to the expense and unavailability of data, that China’s Liaoning province has been using GDP per capita as the main indicator of regional development at the prefectural level. As a development indicator, however, GDP per capita has several deficiencies, which in this thesis are illustrated for the case of Liaoning province. A complement to GDP per capita as a development indicator is proposed here to be life expectancy for Liaoning’s prefectures and for the urban-rural divide within prefectures. As such, life expectancy is shown here to be a useful indicator in the measurement of regional development, and a constructive tool for policy making and regional planning.

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Keywords

Development Indicators, HDI, China Human Development, Life Expectancy, Liaoning Province, China.

Citation

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Graduate Studies and Research

Program

Geography

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