Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Abstract for JCSW special issue: "Human development, inequality and social risks in Latin-America and the Nordic countries"

I have just finished and submitted the abstract below for our forthcoming special issue of Journal of Comparative Social Work "Welfare in Latin-America and the Nordic countries" (abstracts are due June 25th).
Human development, inequality and social risks in Latin-America and the Nordic countries

Morten Tønnessen
Associate professor of philosophy, Department of social studies, University of Stavanger (Norway)

This article will provide an overview and analysis of human development, inequality and people´s perception of social and economic risks in Latin-America and the Nordic countries. The study will cover the period from 1990 to current times.

With Nordic countries ranking very highly on the UN´s Human Development Index (HDI), comparison with the development of HDI values of the Latin-American countries should be of interest. In addition to analyzing regular HDI data, which details increasing life expectancy and other measures of what is taken to be a good life, I will also review Inequality-adjusted HDI data. Such data have been calculated by the UN since 2010. The original Human Development Index does not take account of inequality, and unadjusted HDI values are therefore best understood as measures of the potential for human development in a country if it had no inequality.

For several Latin-American countries, high inequality levels translate to poorer social welfare than desired. The fight against inequality, and for social inclusion, is a necessary component of the fight for better lives for the entire population of the world´s countries. In my investigation of inequality trends, I will also review data from the World Inequality Report 2018 and other data from the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

After reviewing and comparing human development and inequality data for Latin-American and Nordic countries, I will discuss some indications of people´s perception of economic and social risks in selected countries. This discussion will be based on data from the OECD´s Cross-National Survey on Social and Economic Risks, where surveyed countries include Chile, Mexico, Denmark, Finland and Norway. The OECD survey investigates how concerned people are about e.g. becoming ill or disabled, job-security, income, having adequate housing and access to child care, education, and care services for elderly and disabled family members.

In conclusion I will summarize findings and tentatively identify the main challenges facing the advancement of human development in Latin-America and the Nordic countries.

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