Home >Politics >Policy >India falls behind in investment in health and education: Lancet study

New Delhi: India is falling behind its neighbours in terms of the health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the economy, a new study published in international medical journal The Lancet stated.

The study, “Measuring human capital: A systematic analysis of 195 countries and territories, 1990 to 2016," conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on behalf of the World Bank, is based on a systematic analysis of an extensive array of data from numerous sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.

India’s human capital ranked 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, reflecting an improvement from its position at 162 in 1990. India’s ranking is a result of having seven years of expected human capital (an increase from 3 years in 1990), measured as the number of years a person can be expected to work in the years of peak productivity, taking into account life expectancy, functional health, years of schooling, and learning.

Countries in the South Asian region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Maldives (116), Bhutan (133) and Nepal (156) while India is ranked between Sudan and Namibia at 157 and 159, respectively. Countries ranking below India in this report include Bangladesh (161), Pakistan (164) and Afghanistan (188).

On the health component of the study, the study looks at how many years between the ages of 20 and 65—when people are most active in the workforce—they can expect to live. On average, Indians lived 39 of those 45 years.

The study’s measure of functional health—which calculates the work impact of ailments like stunting, hearing and vision loss, or infectious diseases like malaria or tuberculosis—found that India has a functional health status of 43 on a scale of 0-100, an improvement from 36 in 1990. India has an expected educational attainment of 10 years out of a possible of 18 years, reflecting a big leap from six years in 1990. The quality of the education in India has gone up marginally from 63 in 1990 to 66 in 2016.

“Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP—which policymakers ignore at their own peril," said Christopher Murray, director of IHME at the University of Washington.

“As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies," he said.

The study has placed Finland on top, retaining its position, with an increase in expected human capital from 25 to 28, followed by Iceland and Denmark with an expected human capital of 27, retaining their positions at 2 and 3, respectively. Canada fell 7 places from a human capital of 23 in 1990 to 25 in 2016. The study also showed a tremendous decrease in human capital for the US, falling from the 6th rank in 1990 to 27th in 2016. Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016, going from 102nd to 43rd position.

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