By James Suggett
MERIDA — Venezuela improved it's ranking from 62nd to 58th in one year, according to the United Nations Human Development Report 2009, which measured life expectancy, access to education, and income in 182 nations worldwide in the year 2007.
In the annual report, each country was ranked according to its Human Development Index (HDI), which is a composite figure between a minimum of zero and a maximum of one that represents the three aforementioned factors.
Venezuela's HDI improved from .765 in the year 1980 to .844 in 2007, according to the report. In the year 2000, one year after President Hugo Chavez took office, Venezuela's HDI was .802, and the figure has risen each year since then.
According to the United Nations Development Program representative in Venezuela, Yves Sassenrath, Venezuela's improved ranking was the result of the reduction of its infant mortality rate, as well as the increase in its literacy and school enrollment rates.
Since Chavez took office in 1999, access to primary health care in Venezuela has increased more than fourfold to nearly 100%, illiteracy has been nearly eradicated, and infant mortality has decreased by more than half.
In the report, Venezuela was placed in the second tier of countries, which includes 45 countries judged to have attained "high human development." The first tier, which includes 38 countries with "very high human development," is topped by northern European countries, Australia and Canada.
Among Latin American and Caribbean countries, only Barbados was placed in the top tier, with a ranking of 37th worldwide. In the second tier, Chile, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Mexico, and Costa Rica received higher HDIs than Venezuela, while Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador received lower HDIs than Venezuela.
Overall in the report, fifty-one countries received a lower ranking than the previous year, forty-eight received a higher ranking, and eighty-three received the same ranking as the year before.
The director of the research team for the report pointed out that the most recent comparable worldwide data was from 2007, so the HDIs presented in the report represent countries' situations before the current world economic crisis took effect.
October 7, 2009 — Return to cover.