HDI and PQLI emphasizes that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.This topic is part of UPSC mains GS paper 3


  • PQLI
  • HDI


Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI)

Introduced by M D Morris in 1979, it is the average of three statistics: basic literacy rate (at the age of 15 years), infant mortality, and life expectancy at age one, all equally weighted on a 0 to 100 scale. It was widely used till 1990, when HDI was introduced.

Steps to Calculate Physical Quality of Life:

1) Find percentage of the population that is literate (literacy rate).

2) Find the infant mortality rate. (out of 1000 births) INDEXED Infant Mortality Rate = (166 - infant mortality) × 0.625

3) Find the Life Expectancy. INDEXED Life Expectancy = (Life expectancy - 42) × 2.7

Average of aboce parameters gice PQL

ABOUT PHYSICAL QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX= PQLI : Increase in national income and per capita income are not the real indicators of economic development, as it has a number of limitations. Increasing incomes of the country are concentrated in the hands of a few people, which is not development. The development of a country should be such that the living standards of the poor rise, and the basic requirements of the citizens are fulfilled. Keeping this in mind, Morris Davis Morris presented the physical quality of life index, in short known as the PQLI. In this index, betterment of physical quality of life of human beings is considered economic development. The level of physical quality of life determines the level of economic development. If any country's physical quality of life is higher than that of the other country, then that country is considered as more developed. There are three standards to measure the physical quality, which are depicted here:

1)- Extent of Education, 2)- Life Expectancy & 3)- Infant Mortality Rate

Human Development Index (HDI) –

It was created by economist Mahbub ul Haq (Pakistan), followed by economist Amartya Sen in 1990, and is published by the United Nations Development Programme.

Three basic things separate the HDI from the rest: First, HDI is supplemented by other indices that give, separately, specific characteristics of development and, together, a broader picture of the development processes taking place. Second, it was developed and is backed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the major United Nations development agency  and a major international forum of development. Third and most important, human development is not only a new measure of development performance; it involves an altogether new approach to development efforts.

The three dimensions of HDI are

  • long and healthy life (indicator – life expectancy at birth),
  • knowledge (indicator – mean and expected years of schooling) and
  • decent standard of living (GNI per capita).

The geometric mean of the three indicators is the HDI. 2010 Human Development Report was important because it was the 20th year of HDI measurement and certain changes were introduced in the parameters of HDI

India’s HDI is 0.547, placing it at a low rank of 134 out of 187 countries.

  • India has the world's largest number of multidimensionally poor, more than half of the population, at 612 million
  • Overall ranks – 1. Norway 2. Australia 3. New Zealand 4. US……187. Republic of Congo
  • India was below China but above Pakistan
  • India features in the ‘Medium Human Development’ group

For similar notes on Economy topics, refer to the linked article.