© 2017

The Creation of the Human Development Approach

  • Offers unprecedented historical and institutional context to understanding the human development approach

  • Revives critical discussions around the evolution and value of the now-popular human development index (HDI)

  • Presents pointed policy suggestions for how the human development approach can overcome its current challenges


Table of contents

About this book


This book examines the main reasons for the success of the human development approach as an alternative to the economic growth model of development. Is human development theoretically richer, as claimed by its advocates, than any other development concepts including the mainstream? Is its measurement, the human development index (HDI), better than other proposed indices of well-being? Is there anything to be revised to keep its influence for the future? The methodology used throughout this book follows a historical and institutional approach on the ground that human development cannot be understood without taking into account the complexities added by the formation process. Quite often, human development debates are either theoretical and prescriptive or empirical and descriptive. Instead, this book provides a ‘meso-analysis’ of human development by means of a more pragmatic historical and institutional methodology, avoiding the other two extremes that have already been covered by philosophers and field-experts.


Human development Economic growth UNDP Human Development Index International institutions Well-being

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of TokyoTokyoJapan

About the authors

Tadashi Hirai is Project Researcher in the University of Tokyo, Japan, and a supervisor specializing in the human development approach and the human development index at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Bibliographic information


“This concise and well-written book by Tadashi Hirai adds to the growing body of literature on Human Development (HD) by offering an in-depth historical perspective on the emergence of the approach and an analysis of its institutional context. … Hirai’s book is thoughtfully researched, clearly written and economical with words. The monograph is highly suitable for gaining an overview of the historic and institutional context of human development and its measurement.” (Madleina Daehnhardt, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Vol. 20 (1), 2019)