Pakistan ranks 164th in terms of human capital

IHME study reveals country has only improved ranking twice in more than two decades

Asma Ghani September 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan ranks 164th in the world in terms of its investment in education and health care as measurement of its commitment to economic growth, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital.

The list of 195 countries places Pakistan behind Rwanda (ranked 163rd) and just ahead of Tanzania (ranked 165th), with United States standing at 27th place and India at 158th.

Shockingly, Pakistan has improved its ranking just two places from 166 in 1990 to 164 in 2016 in more than two and a half decades, the study reveals. Pakistan is also falling behind in terms of health and human resources, which could have long-term negative effects on its economy.

The rankings are determined after calculating six years of expected human capital, measured as the number of years a person can be expected to work in the years of peak productivity, taking into account life expectancy, functional health, years of schooling, and learning.

The study “Measuring human capital: A systematic analysis of 195 countries and territories, 1990 to 2016” was published on Tuesday in the international medical journal The Lancet.

“Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP – which policymakers ignore at their own peril,” said Dr Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

“As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies,” he said.

According to the survey, Pakistanis only have 5.7 years of expected human capital while Finland’s level of expected human capital in 2016 was 28 years. It reveals that people do not live as long in the workforce as most people in the world, taking into account number of years between ages of 20 and 65 – a time when people are the most active in the workforce. On average, Pakistanis lived 39 of those 45 years, putting Pakistan at number 140 of the 195 countries.

Overall, Pakistan’s residents had 39 out of a possible 45 years of life between the ages of 20 and 64; expected educational attainment of nine years out of a possible of 18 years in school and a learning score of 68 along with a functional health score of 45, both out of 100.

76% Pakistan youth drop out of education: UNDP

The research also shows Pakistanis spend fewer years in school than most in Asia and around the world. An average national spends 8.6 years out of a possible of 18 years in school; as compared to Bangladesh’s 8.2 years and India’s 10.4 years. That puts Pakistan at number 171 in the world in terms of educational attainment. The country has, however, moved up five places since 1990, when it ranked 176.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has done slightly better in terms of education quality. The study measures quality of learning in school and Pakistan ranked 135 in the world – lower than Nepal (127) but higher than India (150).

But the country struggles with illness and disability hampering its workforce. The study’s measure of functional health – which calculates the work impact of ailments like stunting, hearing and vision loss, or infectious diseases like malaria or tuberculosis – ranked Pakistan 177th in the world while India’s functional health ranking is much worse at 187.

The study places Finland at the top. Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016. Asian countries with notable improvement include China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Over the past quarter century, there has been limited progress in building human capital in selected countries that started at a high baseline. The US was ranked sixth in human capital in 1990 but dropped to 27th in 2016 because of minimal progress, particularly in educational attainment, which declined from 13 years to 12.


Engr.Amir Sultan Rana | 3 years ago | Reply The current ranking of Pakistan in the stated sector is much lower than expected. This is indeed not a very good situation at all. We should deeply think on this. My analysis of life clearly indicates that education is one of the prime pillar which was ignored in the past for masses. This should be looked into deeply and all relative measures need to adapt so that in the coming 10-14 years we should emerge with highly qualified nation, thus competing with everyone in the world in all aspects of life. Best of luck Pakistan.
Ali Raza | 3 years ago | Reply PAKISTAN! A country that is made just to tap the untapped potential but as long as people don't leave their comfort level to grow we have to face this shame
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