Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have shown that Qatar would be near the top of the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI) if adjustments were made for the country’s large population of migrant workers, many of whom have a low level of education.
The study titled “Impact of migrant workers on the Human Development Index” was conducted by Dr Ravinder Mamtani, Associate Dean for Global and Public Health at WCMC-Q, Dr Sohaila Cheema, Director of Global and Public Health at WCMC-Q; and Dr Albert B Lowenfels, Professor of Surgery at New York Medical College and it has been published in the UK-based journal, Perspectives in Public Health.
The Human Development Index was developed to measure the overall well being of a nation and often used as a means of comparing countries which is calculated using three variables: health, wealth and education. The health component is based on life expectancy at birth. The wealth component is gross national income per capita. The education component has been split into two separate measures since 2011, which are mean schooling years for adults and expected school years for children entering the education system.
It is the mean schooling years for adults that the researchers have concluded skews the results of HDI measurement of Qatar, as a large percentage of migrant workers have had less formal education.
Dr Mamtani said :“Our research study makes two important points. One, the Human Development Index must be adjusted for the migrant population because this group often has a low level of education. Failure to do so can result in a distorted HDI ranking for a nation such as Qatar with 70-80 percent migrant workers. Two, the current HDI ranking based on maladjusted data must be interpreted with caution.”
Dr Lowenfels observed that Qatar would rank near Norway at the top of the United Nations Human Development list if the HDI measure was appropriately adjusted for the presence of migrant workers.
The researchers said the other components of the HDI – health and income – did not have a significant impact on the final measurement. There are currently 14 countries with more than 30% migrant workers whose ranking in the HDI list is severely impacted. The HDI rankings of any country with a high proportion of expatriate workers should be interpreted cautiously
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