YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia has fallen slightly behind three of its four neighbors in the United Nations’ annual index of people’s well-being around the world, despite advancing to what UN researchers consider a high degree of “human development.”
The UN’s 2010 Human Development Report (HDR) rated 169 countries in terms of their Gross Domestic Product per capita, life expectancy, access to healthcare and education standards.
Armenia occupies 76th place in the rankings topped by Norway, Australia and New Zealand, faring slightly better than in the previous UN report released in October last year. It was placed in the 2010 report’s “High Human Development” category. The previous report put it in the “Medium Human Development Category.”
Neighboring Azerbaijan, Iran and Georgia ranked 67th, 70th and 74th respectively. Armenia’s fourth neighbor, Turkey, holds only 83rd place in the latest UN index.
“Data on Armenia in key components of human development, such as life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and GDP per capita is, with slight differences, similar to the ones in neighboring countries,” says the report. “In terms of life expectancy, Armenia is ahead of the countries in the South Caucasus.”
“The average life expectancy in Armenia is 74.2 years. It is slightly higher than the existing worldwide average,” Aghasi Tadevosian, an expert with the UN office in Yerevan, said, presenting the report to journalists.
UN experts also believe that the three South Caucasus states remain well ahead of Iran and Turkey in terms of school enrolment.
Also, Armenia trails all of its neighbors except Georgia on the GDP per capita basis. The average annual income of its citizens, adjusted for purchasing power parity, now stands at almost $5,500, compared with $8,750 in Azerbaijan and $4,900 in Georgia.
In Tadevosian’s view, the main human development challenge facing Armenians is to be able to use their education, knowledge and professional skills. “They have inadequate opportunities to realize their potential and invest it in the country’s public and economic life,” said the expert.