Human development pathways in Bahrain

Strategy Optimization Consultancy

Raja Yousif Al-Zayani

Farid Karaymeh

7th Feb 2018

The Human Development Report 2016 issued by the United Nations in its latest issue, entitled “development for all”, summarizes its definition of human development as “human freedoms”, where the content of this definition came to include the general, “not for some, not for the majority, but for all”.

According to this definition, the report points to three main dimensions that form the core of building human development in the world, namely: education, health, and the per capita gross national income . Where each of these dimensions is given values ranging from 0 to 1, he called it the “value of the development index”, since the higher that value and
closer to 1, this indicates an increase in human development in the country, and vice versa. Based on these values, the countries are ranked from 1 (the most developed country) to 188 (the least developed country), noting that the
report has classified the countries of the world – according to the level of development of human development – into four categories: countries with very high Human Development, countries with high Human Development, countries with
medium human development, and countries with low human development.

The statistics and aggregate figures provided by the report show that human development in Bahrain has taken an upward path, with the value of the development index reaching 0.824 in 2015 compared to 0.794 in 2000, and 0.745 in 1990, ranking Bahrain in the category of countries with very high human development, and ranked 47th (out of 188 countries covered by the

The “human development gap” – if this designation is correct – which is measured by the widening between the performance achieved in the fields of human development in the Kingdom, and the performance of its counterparts from other categories and groups of countries, reveals that human development in the kingdom – an indicator of the value of the development
index, which amounted to 0.824 in 2015 – exceeded the world average by about 0.108 points, the Arab countries by about 0.205 points, and the countries of Europe and Central Asia by about 0.136 points. However, it is still lower in level when compared with the overall average of the Human Development Index of the OECD countries, which amounted to 0.887 points.


 Groups of countries

Human Development
Index (HDI) 2015

Arab countries


East Asia and the Pacific


Europe and Central


Latin America and the Caribbean


Organization for
Economic Cooperation and development


The world



Source: Human Development Report 2016, United Nations Development Program.


The first dimension of human development, which is education, is indicated by the expected number of school years, and the average number of school years completed by people aged 25 years and older, that the number of school years expected to be completed by a child of school entry age in Bahrain reached 14.5 years in 2015, which is higher than the general average
of the group of Latin American and Caribbean states (14.1 years), and the Arab countries (11.7 years), but lower than the average expected number of school years for the OECD countries (15.9 years), Norway (17.7 years), Australia (
20.4 years), UAE ( 13.3 years).

With regard to the years of study completed by people aged 25 and over, which reflects the human capital and the period of time spent in acquiring knowledge, it amounted to an average of 9.4 years in Bahrain compared to 6.8 years in the Arab countries, 11.9 years in the organization for Economic Cooperation and development, 13.4 years in Switzerland, 13.1 years in Canada, 12.5 years in the United Kingdom, 9.5 years in the UAE, and 9.6 years in Saudi Arabia.


State groups

Expected number of
school years

Average school

Life expectancy at

per capita gross
national income (PPP, USD 2011)

Arab countries





East Asia and the Pacific





Europe and Central





Latin America and the Caribbean





Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and development











Source: Human Development Report 2016, United Nations Development Program

As for the second development dimension, which is health progress, as an indicator of life expectancy at birth, or the number of years a newborn is expected to live, it reached 76.7 years in 2015, compared to 73.1 years in 1999, as this increase reflects the result of progress and improvement in multiple health fields over the past fifteen years. It should be noted that
this indicator reached 83.7 years in Japan, 81.7 years in Norway, 74.4 years in Saudi Arabia, 77.1 years in the UAE, and 80.3 years in the OECD countries.

The third development dimension reflects the ability to achieve a decent standard of living, which is referred to as” per capita
national income”, as it shows that the per capita income in Bahrain – adjusted by purchasing power for the year 2011 – amounted to 37,236 dollars for the year 2015, an amount almost equal to the per capita national income in the
OECD countries, and exceeds its share in the Arab countries by about 60 %. It ranks 27th in the world according to this indicator.

This is an overview and aggregate figures on human development in Bahrain, which, although they reflect success and progress at the macro level, they seem insufficient to describe the details of the full picture, unless accompanied by a look and partial analysis of the three dimensions mentioned and at the level of individuals and institutions.