The availability of poverty data has increased over the last 20 years but large gaps remain
About half the countries we studied in our recent paper, Data Deprivation, Another Deprivation to End are deprived of adequate data on poverty. This is a huge problem because the poor, who often lack political representation and agency, will remain invisible unless objective and properly sampled surveys reveal where they are, and how they’re faring. The lack of data on human and social development should be seen as a form of deprivation, and along with poverty, data deprivation should be eradicated.
world development indicators
Explaining the differences in today’s global society is a topic that clearly captures the interest of many: as I write this blog, the hardback version of Thomas Piketty’s new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is second on Amazon’s best-seller list. That’s not bad for a pretty hefty book about economics and the distribution of wealth!
Another publication – the 2014 edition of World Development Indicators (WDI) 2014 – was also released in the last few weeks: it’s not likely to reach the bestseller list on Amazon, but it does also reveal some startling differences in the lives of people around the world, and the challenges they face. Here’s one statistic: a newborn child born in Sierra Leone will be 90 times more likely to die before her fifth birthday than a newborn child born in Luxembourg. And the estimated probabilities of dying before five? In Sierra Leone, in 2012, it was 18%, or just under 1 in 5 – the highest in the world. In Luxembourg, that probability was just 0.2%, or about 1 in 500 – the lowest in the world. Since it really is quite shocking, maybe I should repeat it: almost 1 in 5 children born in Sierra Leone will die before they reach the age of five.
Merchandise trade has become an increasingly important contributor to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), particularly for developing countries. Before the global financial crisis hit in 2008, merchandise trade as a percent of GDP for low- and middle-income economies was 57 percent, about 5% higher than for high-income economies. This is very evident in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) where merchandise trade accounts for 73 percent of the developing region’s GDP. Many ECA countries including Hungary, Belarus, and Bulgaria have merchandise trade to GDP ratios above 100 percent (155, 136, and 114 percent respectively in 2011), meaning merchandise exports are a large contributor to their overall economy.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates are some of the most heavily requested and used data published on data.worldbank.org. And as many users notice, the estimates are sometimes revised, occasionally resulting in large changes from previously published values. Why do revisions happen, what information do we publish about those revisions, and where do you find it?
A number of World Bank Open Data users have been taking advantage of the new Databank. Databank offers over 8,000 indicators with which to create and save custom reports with tables, charts, or maps. The saved reports are updated automatically when the data are udpated. And you can revisit, share, and embed the tables, charts, or maps as widgets on websites or blogs.
Renowned British economic historian Niall Ferguson in his new and dazzling history of Western ideas, Civilization: The West and the Rest, argues as his central thesis that the West developed six killer “apps”—referring to the popular software applications for smartphones and tablets—that caused the West to dominate the global stage for the last 500 years. These key institutions and complexes of ideas, such as “competition,” “property rights,” “the Work Ethic,” were what led the West to preside (relatively unchallenged) over global politics, economics, and culture, despite the fact that the civilizations of the Orient were much more advanced than Western Europe in the 1400s, which was plagued by disease and war. Over time, however, the West has become, as Ferguson puts it, a “template” for the Rest (i.e. non-Western countries), which have been copying (or downloading) the apps and are now on the verge of overtaking the West in terms of economic strength and size, led by China.
With just four years to the target date of 2015, progress on the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been slow. Measuring progress has been hampered by the lack of quality and timely data; this is especially true when measuring progress toward goals that rely on civil registration for their information, such as Goal 4 on reducing child mortality. Available data in the new edition of World Development Indicators show that of the 144 countries for which data are available, more than 100 countries remain off-track to reach the MDG 4 by 2015.
We launched the 2010 World Development Indicators today, except this year we launched it on data.worldbank.org—the Bank’s new open data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators previously available only to paying subscribers. We’re pushing to share our data with the world, and the WDI is a wonderful platform for this. Year after year, we pull together data from many places—across international agencies and countries-- in one place to draw a statistical image of the world. This year, whole new audiences will be able to access our work.
Since I joined the Bank, I have worked with a team of economists, statisticians, and others to produce a new WDI each year. Every April, we unveiled a new edition that revealed new facts about development. It was our chance to describe development by the numbers. But the numbers were not enough. We needed to explain the numbers, make it easier for others to pull knowledge from all these facts. The essays, the detailed descriptions and definitions of the data were a step in the right direction, but we needed to do more.
The Bank released today the latest edition of the World Development Indicators, an annual Bank flagship. The WDI provides a comprehensive overview of development drawing on data from the World Bank and more than 30 partners.
"The WDI is the statistical benchmark that will help measure both the impact of the crisis and, eventually, of global recovery," says Shaida Badiee, director of the Bank's Development Data Group.
Some of this year's highlight focus on the economy, spread of new technology, migration, energy and climate change.
For example, did you know that India leads all countries in exports of information communication technology (ICT) services? ICT sector exports account for about 42% of total service exports. Ok, so that was an easy one.
But did you know that energy use has doubled since 1971? The United States, Japan, Germany, Russia, China and India consume most energy, and are the largest emmiters of carbon dioxide?