Abstract The UNDP's first annual Human Development Report is reviewed and discussed. The report introduces a new index—the human development index (HDI)—as a counter to measures of national income such as GDP. Measuring development of countries with the aid of this index gives a significantly different ordering to one based on GNP per capita. This point is not disputed, although success on the index is not a necessary and sufficient condition for success in terms of rapid economic growth, as is shown by the case of Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, the report is welcome for its attention to human development issues, for its useful statistical annex, and for its observation that the poverty of the people of the developing world has been no barrier to the affluence of their armies.