Without the riches of the United States, Canada or Britain, Barbados has joined the ranks of the world’s “developed” nations, albeit only in terms of providing people with an excellent quality of life.
Often called the “Singapore of the Caribbean”, Barbados, according to the United Nations, joins such countries as Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Lichtenstein, Bahrain, oil-rich Qatar, Andorra, San Marino, Brunei Darussalam, Monaco, United Arab Emirates and Estonia on the list of “developed” countries, based purely on the Human Developed Index (HDI).
The HDI, now in its 20th year, measures performances in health, education, income and other quality of life indices.
The classification was contained in the 2010 UN Human Development Index released worldwide a few days ago.
But that wasn’t all about Barbados. With the exception of the Bahamas, it outspends all of its Caribbean neighbours when it comes to providing health care for each resident and it has one of the lowest murder rates in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Barbados was the only Caribbean and Latin American state to be labelled “developed”. It’s among 16 states which don’t belong to the rich nations’ club in Paris, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but which were placed in a grouping set aside for “developed non-OECD members”.
Mexico, the lone Latin American and Caribbean country which belongs to the OECD, wasn’t included in the ranks of the “developed” states but was placed among the 32 “developing” nations in the Western Hemisphere.
Barbados had previously articulated its desire to be classified as a developed country, but it didn’t set an exact deadline for achieving that goal. Trinidad and Tobago says it wants to reach that level by 2020.
In the latest report, Barbados was listed among the nations worldwide with a “very high” level of human development. It was third on the list of members of the OAS that had attained that ranking.
The others were the United States, fourth, and Canada, eighth. Barbados was ranked 42nd. Narrowly missing the top classification was the Bahamas, which was 43rd.
All of Barbados’ CARICOM neighbours, including energy-rich Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and
Grenada were listed as “developing” states.
So too were such emerging economic giants as India, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation and China.
As the UN Development Programme’s top administrator Helen Clark saw it, success wasn’t simply about money.
“On one crucial point the evidence is compelling and clear: there is much that countries can do to improve the quality of people’s lives even under adverse circumstances,” she said.
“Many countries have made great gains in health and education despite only modest growth in income, while some countries with strong economic performance have failed to make similarly impressive progress in life expectancy.”
In the vital area of health, the UN report put Barbados’ per capita expenditure on health care at US$1 265 in 2007, a figure that was only surpassed in the region by the Bahamas with US$1 987. Trinidad and Tobago had a per capita expenditure of US$1 178.
Barbados’ per capita spending on health was at least three times greater than Jamaica’s (US$357); about six times higher than Guyana’s (US$197) and at least US$400 per person more than Chile, Kuwait, Mexico and Brazil.
Barbados invested more per capita in the provision of care for individuals than such rich countries as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, Kuwait and Algeria. And its outlay was ten times greater than India’s and about US$300 more than Poland.