The Human Life Indicator

IIASA researchers have introduced a new, simple measure for human wellbeing across countries, called the Human Life Indicator (HLI), that takes inequality into account and could replace the commonly used but error-prone Human Development Index (HDI).

Huge crowds of people, Hong Kong © Tidusx |

Huge crowds of people, Hong Kong © Tidusx |

Measuring the overall wellbeing of populations is crucial for evaluating the success of policies. The Human Life Indicator expresses wellbeing in terms of years of life, similar to life expectancy at birth. However, unlike any other current measure, it takes not only the mean value but also the inequality in longevity into account. The wide availability of mortality data means that the HLI can be used for reliable comparisons of wellbeing across countries, in the past as well as the present. 

Figures in Table Re-Aging 4 includes the Human Life Indicator, the Human Development Index, and life expectancy at birth for all UN countries and regions.  The Human Life Indicator and life expectancy at birth are based on the UN’s 2017 revision of World Population Prospects. The Human Development Index is from 2016.

New measures of human development are now available for downloading

Data accompanying Ghishlandi S, Sanderson WC, Scherbov S (2018), A Simple Measure of Human Development: the Human Life Indicator Population and Development Review. DOI:10.1111/padr.12205

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC
grant agreement no ERC2012-AdG 323947-Re-Ageing. The funders had no role in
study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the

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Last edited: 19 February 2019


Sergei Scherbov

Principal Research Scholar and Project Leader Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Warren Sanderson

Guest Research Scholar Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Research funder

European Research Council Grant no ERC2012-AdG 323947-Re-Ageing

Demographic Data Sheets

European and Russian Data Sheet

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