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Johan Mistiaen's blog

Kenya’s re-based national accounts: myths, facts, and the consequences

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A month ago, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Kenya released a set of re-based and revised National Accounts Statistics (NAS), the culmination of an exercise that started in 2010.  Press coverage, reactions from investors and the public have been generally favorable, but some confusion still looms regarding some of the facts and consequences.  We wrote this blog post to debunk some of the myths.

NAS, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are typically measured by reference to the economic structure in a “base” year.  Statisticians sample businesses in different industries to collect data that measures how fast they are growing.  The weight they give to each sector depends on its importance to the economy in the base year.  As time passes and the structure of the economy changes, these figures become less and less accurate.

Re-basing is a process of using more recently collected data to replace an old base year with a new one to reflect the structural changes in the economy.  Re-basing also provides an opportunity to add new or more comprehensive data, incorporate new or better statistical methods, and apply advancements in classification and compilation standards. The current gold standard is the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA).

<1000 days to the MDGs: Data Dashboards to Monitor the last Stretch

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Data on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) indicator trends for developing countries and for different groups of countries are curated in the World Development Indicator (WDI) database.  Each year we use these data in the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) to track progress on the MDGs.  Many colleagues, as well as non-Bank staff, approach us on a weekly basis with questions regarding where their region, or country, or sector stands in regard to achieving the core MDGs.  Oftentimes in the same breath, they will also ask us whether or when we expect that a particular country or region will meet a certain MDG.  

With less than 1,000 days remaining to the MDG deadline, work on the Post-2015 agenda is in full swing. In response to the growing demand for additional info about GMR analytics and the underlying data, we developed a suite of open and interactive data diagnostics dashboards available at: http://data.worldbank.org/mdgs.  Below is an extract which summarizes the progress status towards meeting various MDGs among countries in various regions, income and other groups.  Select different indicators and highlight categories of progress status to interact with the visualization.

 

Seeing Between the Lines: Visualizing Global Poverty Trends

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Last month, while World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched the gender data portal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that “data not only measures progress, it inspires it”.  Indeed when data is both relevant and effectively communicated, it can help to inform policies, identify challenges, and catalyze changes and innovations that deliver development results.

With that goal in mind, we started an Open Data Lab.  One of our objectives is to help the development community become more effective data communicators by experimenting with different data visualization techniques and tools.  The human brain finds it easier to process data and information if it is presented as an image rather than raw numbers or words.  And visualizations that let and encourage users to interact with data can deepen their understanding of the information presented.