A Critical Assessment of UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index

Iñaki Permanyer, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (CED)

This paper critically reviews the Gender Inequality Index (GII), the new gender-related index proposed by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the 2010 Human Development Report. We argue that the particular ways in which the index was constructed limit its usefulness and appropriateness as a global gender inequality index. In particular, we contend that the functional form of the index might be excessively and unnecessarily confusing. Moreover, the inclusion of indicators that compare the relative performance of women vis-à-vis men together with absolute women-specific indicators obscures even more the interpretation of an already complicated index that turns out to penalize the performance of low-income countries. In order to overcome some of the identified limitations we define a new composite index of gender inequality that incorporates the GII variables but uses a much simpler functional form. Our results suggest that the interpretation of GII values should be heavily qualified.

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Presented in Poster Session 6