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The Ayatollah’s KEPT promises: on Camelia Entekhabifard’s “journalism” versus reality on Iran… again

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | February 5, 2014

Camelia Entekhabifard, a person of no doubt very high morals and sense of outrage and indignation at human rights abuses etc etc etc, has yet again published an article in the Huffpo proclaiming that “the mullahs” have failed to improve the living standards of Iranians as they promised. Where’s the free electricity we were promised!

But, here’s the reality: Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranians are living longer, better, healthier lives than ever, according to the UNDP.

I probably sound like a broken record repeating this over and over again.

So, this time, note something quite interesting about the three graphs for life expectancy, gross national income and education in the above linked website. Those things are the three major factors that are used to determine a country’s Human Development Index. Note that in the case of Iran, from 1980 to 2012, the education and life expectancy graphs massively improved yet the gross national income graph did not. In other words, even though not much new wealth was created, people are living much better lives. How does that happen?

Kevan Harris has an interesting explanation from his analysis of an earlier HDI report on Iran: “National wealth, especially for resource-rich countries like Iran, can often mask poor health and education. In Iran’s case, however, its improvements in health and education far outpace its economic growth, which has been sporadic over the past two decades. ‘The manner in which countries spend their wealth, not the wealth itself, is decisive,’ the new report explains.”

So, in other words, Iranians don’t live longer, better-educated lives just because the country got richer, as is the case with some other nations, since Iran didn’t get richer — rather, the improvements in health and education were the results of the manner the wealth was used: a policy of allocating limited resources to improving living standards. (which also begs the question, where were those resources going until the Revolution when the shift to improving living standards started?)

As the UNDP explains: “From a human development standpoint – during the period 1980-2012, Iran’s policy interventions were both significant and appropriate to produce improvements in human development.”

So, in the years since the Islamic Revolution, not only did Iran have the second-fastest rate of HDI improvement after China (Iran: 67%; China 70%) which was also more than double the world’s average rate of HDI improvement, and which resulted in things like a 22-year increase in lifespan in the course of a single generation (a generation is defined as 30 years) — all of this happened despite the fact that Iran did not get significantly richer in that same time period (and despite the war, the sanctions etc.)

This is an amazing fact. Of course this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other problems in Iran: While Iran is far from being Saudi Arabia or the Taliban, gender equality figures need improving (more than 6 women in Parliament!) And while absolute poverty in Iran (defined as people living on under $/2 day) is low, a sense of relative poverty is high because there’s a significant income inequality there as in the US. And that sense of relative poverty is what Ms Entekhabifard is appealing to.

But, 22 years of increased lifespan and a rate of HDI improvement that’s double the world average, still speak for themselves. The bottom line is that “the mullahs” not only improved living standards for Iranians after the revolution, but did so spectacularly, Mrs Entekhabifard. This is simply a statistical fact from the UNDP so don’t send me the hissing fits.

February 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment