Rescuing human development from a lip-service syndrome

Tadashi Hirai, Flavio Comim, Richard Jolly

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review


Motivation: Despite widespread acknowledgement of and praise for the Human Development Report by policy-makers, practitioners and individual academics, the paradigm of human development has often lacked sustained academic and operational policy-making attention. Purpose: Investigating this undesirable disconnect and discussing the possible reasons behind it, this article reveals two fundamental challenges: to make more specific the rich concepts of human development and to relate them to the dominant concepts of development, and to motivate and guide the context-specific choices at the national and regional level. Approach and Methods: Addressing these challenges will require a more careful exploration of the theoretical and operational implications of the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and of their adoption by the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Conclusions: To achieve the adoption of the human development paradigm, the article makes some proposals both to the UNDP and to academia for the future directions of the Human Development (HD) approach. Policy implications: The proposals on HD seek to chart pathways out of the current economic stagnation and slowdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment Policy Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Amartya Sen
  • Human Development Report
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • capability approach


Dive into the research topics of 'Rescuing human development from a lip-service syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this