More than ten years ago the first Human Development Report was published under the aegis of the United Nations Development Office (UNDP) and the supervision of several social scientists among which Amartya Kumar Sen. During these years a huge debate about how human development has to be measured and human development processes analyzed has occupied specialized journals' columns. Consistently, in the first part of this essay Sen-inspired foundations of the concept are discussed and main theoretical indices of human development are reviewed and compared. Hence, some guidelines for a human development analysis based on elementary statistical tools are suggested. Finally, using UNDP's data, we also provide examples about how human development indices can be used for answering to several economic issues under discussion among policy makers and economists. A brief discussion on public policies for human development design and monitoring ends the article.