Connecticut’s Outstanding Leadership in Human Development and Economic Prosperity

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

What does human development mean, and why does it matter to humanity?
Photo by Trevor Hayes on Unsplash

In this article, I introduce the topic of human development, emphasize its importance, and how Connecticut is leading this required field. Let's face it! Who doesn't want to experience a free, prosperous, and high-quality lifestyle, including for their loved ones?

The purpose of human development is to enhance people's freedom, opportunities, and overall well-being. Freedom means to decide who we want to be and how we want to live our lives.

Human development revolves around values and capabilities. At the fundamental level, we all desire good health, access to knowledge, and a decent material standard of living. Here is an interesting YouTube video introducing the eight stages of human development.

In 1990, Dr Mahbub ul Haq collaborating with Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and several economists, published the first Human Development Report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme. In that report, Dr Haq argued that the commonly used measure of Gross Domestic Product failed to measure well-being adequately.

The UN Development Programme publishes such reports. Recently several leading papers on Human Development were published. For example, "Inequality, Social Mobility and Career Ladders", "Protecting Our Human World Order: A Human Security Compass for a New Sustainability Decade", and "Measuring Human Development for the Anthropocene" are the recent ones.

There has been an economic and financial focus on human development assessment. In life quality assessments, financial measures usually include consumer spending levels, national debt figures, Gross Domestic Product, and daily stock market results.

These stats are essential; however, they only provide a partial view of our well-being. It is promising to see that United Nations is now shifting the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people-centred policies. The goal of the Human Development Index is to offer an alternative to these material metrics.
Screen Capture from the United Nations Website

When I checked the recent UN Human Development report for the US, I noticed they use granular points such as health, education, income, inequality, gender, poverty, employment, security, financials, mobility, communications, demographics, socio-economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability.

Based on these criteria, the US comes 17th globally. Here are a few key highlights for the US: Life expectancy is 78.9. gross national income 63,826, education 16.3.
Screen Capture from the United Nations Website

This diagram shows the progress for the US in the last 20 years. It depicts slow progress.
Screen Capture from the United Nations Website

Almost every country uses the Human Development Index. However, the US has a different version and criteria. The Measure of America presents a modified version for America.

The measure of America (MOA) provides methodologically valuable tools for understanding the distribution of well-being and opportunity in the US. The hallmark of their work is the American Human Development Index. This index is an alternative to GDP and other money metrics that tells how ordinary Americans are faring and empowers communities with a tool to track progress over time.

The MOA Index comprises health, education, and income indicators. In addition, it allows for well-being rankings of the 50 states, 436 congressional districts, county groups within states, women and men, and racial and ethnic groups. Here is the statement:

The American Human Development Index measures the exact three basic dimensions as the standard HD Index. However, it uses different indicators to reflect the US context better and maximize the use of available data. For example, while the standard index measures access to knowledge using the average number of years students spend in school, we have chosen instead to use educational attainment, a more demanding indicator.
American Human Development Index Site

Equality, diversity, and inclusiveness are concerns of human development. In addition, technology, democracy, and freedom of information play an essential role and are considered vital enablers of human development.

Emerging technologies such as mobile phones, digital media, Internet access, telemedicine, biotechnology, smart homes, smart cities, sustainable transportation, enhanced mobility, aviation, robotics, innovation are only a few technological breakthroughs improving the quality of life in developed countries.

After this background information on this important topic, let us take a look at why Connecticut gets a high score in the international and American human development index.

Highlights from Connecticut

Connecticut’s population is growing. Recent preliminary census data, released by the Bureau of Statistics, shows around 3.6 million people in Connecticut. There are over 89 thousand employers. 90% of the population have computers at home. Over 90% of people have a high school or higher level of education. You can find complete stats at this link.

When we look at the Human Development Index by the UN, Connecticut gets an equivalent of standards with Switzerland, which is the second in the list. So from this diagram, we understand that even though the US is 17th in the UN index, Connecticut hits the second rank globally.
Screen Capture from Wikipedia Connecticut Entry

As mentioned in City-Data Forums, Connecticut is second in the Human Development Index (HDI). However, the forum points out that it is not to be confused with the American Human Development Index. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators used to rank countries into four tiers of human development.

However, according to, Connecticut is the Best State for Human Development. The article states that:

"The US state with the highest Human Development Index is Connecticut with a 6.17 ranking. To break it down, the residents of Connecticut were found to be 50% more likely to have a bachelor's degree. This higher level of education contributes to the people of Connecticut receiving higher salaries, thereby being able to enjoy a better quality of life. The life expectancy at birth is 80.8 years in Connecticut. With an 81.9% school enrolment rate, 11.4% of people in the state have education less than high school, 53% are high school graduates, 35.5% have at least a bachelor's degree, and 15.3% have a graduate degree. "

US News & World Report reflects a different picture. For example, Connecticut is the third state in health care, sixth in education, sixth in crime and corrections, but 20 or above in other metrics such as economy, infrastructure, opportunity, natural environments, and fiscal stability.
Screen Capture from the US News Public Website

In social media, some people think that Connecticut is an underrated state. For example, there is a specific board called 29 Reasons Connecticut Is The Most Underrated State on Pinterest.

Academia in Connecticut contributes to human development. For example, The University of Connecticut has a Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) department. The research, teaching, and public engagement of HDFS is on a multidisciplinary understanding of three points: healthy development and well-being of individuals and families over their lifespan, interactions and processes within families, individuals and families in societal and cultural contexts.
Screen Capture from the University of Connecticut

Connecticut has an excellent business focus on bioscience, manufacturing, green technology, insurance, and financial services. In addition, one of the strong economic powers in Connecticut is digital media. According to US News, there are more than 1,200 digital media businesses.

Bioscience is popular in Connecticut. The Connecticut Bioscience Growth Council includes representatives from CBIA member companies with biotech, pharmaceutical, and bioscience-related interests. It was organized to address the issues affecting this growing sector, especially the importance of strong intellectual property protection and the industry's uniquely high R&D costs.
Screen Capture from Connecticut Bioscience Council Website

In addition, the Bioscience Connecticut at UCONN Health is renovating existing UConn Health facilities to increase research capacity and productivity, increasing the number of clinical, translational scientists, and expanding incubator facilities to foster new business start-ups. The centre is also constructing a new hospital tower and ambulatory care facility, renovating the John Dempsey Hospital and implementing several new community-based programs to address pressing health care needs.
Screen Capture from the University of Connecticut

When we look at the vision of Connecticut leaders, we can get some clues. For example, Governor New Lamont in the Connecticut government site introduces himself with the statement:

"Together, we will revitalize Connecticut's economy to bring opportunity and prosperity to every one of our communities".

And the focus of Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz is:

committed to equal pay, good-paying jobs, excellent public schools in every neighbourhood, and an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship and shares its rewards.”
Screen Capture from Connecticut Government Website

Recently Governor Lamont named five members of the newly established social equity council. The council was created by the enactment of a new law the governor signed last month that legalizes and safely regulates the adult use of cannabis in Connecticut.


The UN stats mapping Connecticut with Switzerland standards seems to be a good indicator of human development in the state.

From statements of both leaders of the Connecticut government, the keywords opportunity, prosperity, equal payment, good-paying jobs, excellent public schools, nurturing environment, and entrepreneurship are the values related to human development. Focus on these items could be the secret of high scores for human development in this state.

Every state had a tremendous adverse economic effect from the pandemic. However, the Connecticut leadership team demonstrates their focus and commitment to the prosperity and well-being of residents.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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I write about important and valuable life lessons. My goal is to delight my readers. My content aims to inform and engage my readers. I'm a technologist, cognitive scientist, and postdoctoral researcher, with four decades of experience.


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