ALEX Lesson Plan


Country Investigations using the Human Development Index

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Megan Cole
System: Homewood City
School: Homewood High School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33879


Country Investigations using the Human Development Index


Students will use the United Nations Human Development Index database to research a country's standard of living. Students will use research to explain the factors resulting in that country's social and economic development. Specifically, students will research for the "ingredients" of economic growth - human capital, physical capital, labor productivity, technology, infrastructure, natural resources, political stability, etc. Then, students will prepare a one-page Google Doc report on the country.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 12
5 ) Explain that a country's standard of living depends upon its ability to produce goods and services.

•  Explaining productivity as the amount of outputs, or goods and services, produced from inputs, or factors of production
•  Describing how investments in factories, equipment, education, new technology, training, and health improve economic growth and living standards
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, Civics and Government
Course Title: Economics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Calculate nominal GDP.
  • Calculate real GDP.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • gross domestic product (GDP)
  • nominal GDP
  • real per capita GDP
  • GDP deflator
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • productivity
  • input
  • output
  • Rule of 70
Students know:
  • The four components of the expenditure approach to GDP.
  • How productivity is calculated.
  • How productivity can be increased.
  • The factors that lead to economic growth.
Students are able to:
  • Calculate GDP.
  • Use a GDP deflator to calculate real GDP.
Students understand that:
  • The BEA categorizes the four components of the expenditure approach to GDP.
  • Investment leads to increased productivity and economic growth.
  • Increases in productivity lead to a higher standard of living
  • There are specific factors that lead to increased productivity.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.E.AAS.12.5- Understand the concepts of economic growth and standard of living; recognize ways to encourage economic growth.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will explain a country's standard of living by researching that country to determine factors affecting the standard of living. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Copies of rubric

Technology Resources Needed:

- Internet access

- Teacher computer

- Projector

- Student computer or tablet

- Google Docs or similar Word Processor

- Access to the Human Development Index


- Students should have a basic understanding of the factors leading to economic development in a country. A great article for background reading for the students or teacher is Page One Economics, "Ingredients of Economic Growth." The article also has an excellent list of vocabulary related to economic growth.

- Teacher should read the background reading, What is the HDI?

- Students will be working in pairs for this lesson. You may choose to assign these ahead of time.




Display the Human Development Index (HDI) table for students. Explain what the HDI is and what it measures. Engage students in a discussion on standard of living by focusing on a few countries. Look at the data for a country with a high HDI, such as Switzerland. Discuss what it means for this country to have a high standard of living. Ask students to speculate on how Switzerland has achieved this. Then, look at a country with a low HDI, such as Rwanda. Ask students to speculate on why Rwanda has such a low standard of living. This is a good time to review with students important vocabulary, such as physical capital, natural resources, human capital, productivity, etc.

Discuss the meaning of other statistics on the HDI table, such as life expectancy and gross national income.


Place students in pairs and allow them to set up their computers/tablets. Students will then select a country from the Human Development Index and discuss that country's ranking and other data.

Students will conduct internet research on their country in order to explain that country's standard of living as reflected in the HDI. They will need to research the following factors at a minimum:

  • Natural Resources
  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Physical Capital
  • Productivity
  • Exports
  • Industry
  • Political climate


After conducting research, students will compile their information into a Country Report on a Google Doc or similar word processor. The purpose is to explain to the class that country's standard of living and the factors contributing to it. The report should be brief and take the form of a bulleted list, chart, or graphic organizer. Each country report will also need to contain a map.

Student pairs will present their findings to the class by sharing their reports. Engage students in a discussion on the common factors leading to growth and a high standard of living and the common factors leading to a low standard of living.


Assessment Strategies

- Informal assessment through class discussion of factors leading to economic growth.

- Assess understanding of factors contributing to economic growth and standard of living through the Country Report. Use the Rubistar rubric.


Students may choose to create a graph comparing two or more countries':

natural resources






physical capital


  • Students may be provided with websites to guide their research instead of having to complete research entirely on their own.
  • Students may be given prompts to guide the creation of their country report.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.