For this project we were interested in analyzing the World Development Indicators (WDI) that have been tracked by the World Bank for more than 50 years in order to help achieve global development goals. In conjunction, the U.N. has developed the Human Development Index (HDI) to focus on the criteria that define human achievement beyond just economic development. We wanted to discover which WDIs in particular affect HDI and what level of values can help increase HDI. Our "primary" indicators were simply those that most countries have data for and have been tracked the longest. Our "secondary" indicators are ones that we discovered to be highly related to HDI and worth exploring, despite less availability of tracked data.
The Machine Learning Models
For this project, we used linear and multilinear regression models since HDI was numerical and we had a few features/indicators to consider. During the charting and modelling process we discovered which indicators, such as life expectancy and education, weighed on the model much more heavily than others because they had strong linear relationships individually with HDI. For more moderate indicators, the ML model allowed us to create combinations of either known or estimated WDI values to try and reach the highest HDI.
Economists often use GDP as the primary measure of a country's achievement or productivity. In our research however, when we focused on human development (HDI) as our measure of success, certain indicators came to light as having strong influence on HDI. Surprisingly, GDP and GNI were only moderately relevant to human development; agriculture was inversely related to HDI; and population and employment were not likely related to HDI. While exploring other indicators, we discovered that education, gender equality, and access to basic and technological necessities were heavily relevant to HDI. By using a model and exploring the less obvious indicators, we hope to uncover achievable and quantifiable measures - besides what has historically been focused on - to improve human development and goal-setting for each country and/or the global community.