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Data, Differences, and Digging Deeper

Neil Fantom's picture

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.

What can data tell us about Nigerian girls' educational opportunities?

Leila Rafei's picture
You might have heard the horrific news that almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were recently kidnapped by members of the militant group Boko Haram, who abducted them from their school while decked in military uniforms.

Their offense? Going to school.

This grim story highlights the pressing issue of education in the developing world.

So I thought I’d look at the stats. First: primary completion rate, which is the number of students in the last year of primary compared to the number of children of the correct age for that year – and one of the measures that is used to assess progress to “MDG2” – to achieve universal primary education. As of 2010, the estimate for Nigeria was 76%, higher than the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 69%, but well below the world average of 91%. And Nigerian girls were almost 10 percentage points behind Nigerian boys’ primary completion rate in that year. Interestingly, in 2006, the primary completion rate was as high as 90%, putting Nigeria slightly above the world average. The rate has since declined, possibly due to a steady increase in the size of Nigeria’s youth population, which can put a strain on resources linked to education. About 44% of the population was under 14 years of age in 2012.
Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group)

New Data Shows Meaningful Progress in Reducing Maternal Mortality

Emi Suzuki's picture

In the developing world, one way to reduce maternal mortality is to train professional midwives for both health facility and home deliveries. But what does the bigger picture of maternal mortality look like today?

The global maternal mortality ratio has fallen by 45% between 1990 and 2013, according to new estimates released today. This means that the world went from 380 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. While this decline represents substantial progress, the actual rate of decline is insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) – a three-quarter reduction in 1990 levels by 2015. To truly reach the target, an annual average reduction of 5.5% would be needed between 1990 and 2015.

 

Global maternal mortality ratio, 1990 and 2013

Will your project fail without a data scientist?

Prasanna Lal Das's picture

Data scientist may be the sexiest job of the current century, and everybody in the world may be crying hoarse over the growing shortage of data scientists, but if you are leading an international development project or an international development agency, chances are you don’t have a data scientist on your team and you likely aren’t looking for one. That’s a problem.

Advancing the Data Revolution through Country-Owned Data

Johannes Kiess's picture
During the World Bank’s Spring Meetings, we launched the Open Aid Map to publish and visualize the sub-national locations of donor-financed projects on an interactive, open source platform. This means we now have access to a common platform that allows us to see who is funding what and where within developing countries.

WITS Trade Data Site: Five New Features

Siddhesh Kaushik's picture

Where can you find the top trading partners for your country? Where can you find the top products exported to and imported from Indonesia? Where can you find just about any type of trade data?

The answers to these questions (and more) are available at our recently revamped World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) site: wits.worldbank.org.  In previous versions of the site, users needed to login and query the data themselves. You still can.  And many still do to conduct much more detailed and sophisticated research and analysis on trade. But if you want to quickly look up or browse trade statistics like total exports, tariffs applied, top export, and import partners, the data has been pre-calculated and made available as Open Data.

“Thanks to the data I found on WITS, I successfully completed my PhD.  Really easy-to-use site and great upgrades.”
                              – User in India
We have tried to make the new site more intuitive and accessible to the site’s users.  Our team – the Development Data Group (DECDG), the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM), and other World Bank units – worked in consultation with partners, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and others, to produce this site.  We hope you find the new site as useful as we do.

Collecting Country Debt Data: 63 Years and Counting

Jung Weil's picture
IDS 2014
What word has four letters, one syllable, no weight but can still be crushing? If you guessed debt, you are correct. The World Bank has had a Debt Reporting System (DRS) since 1951, and it's still going strong.

Although the World Bank collaborates with international agencies that work with external debt and debt-related statistics (the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others), the World Bank has the international mandate to collect external debt data, and we maintain comprehensive external debt information.

Igniting the Data Revolution Post-2015 Now

Grant Cameron's picture

What sparks a revolution? And what helps keep the transformational power of a revolution alive?  When Jim Yong Kim became World Bank Group president less than two years ago, he stated that one of his first priorities was to position the World Bank Group as a “solutions bank.”  Most recently, during his speech last Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kim discussed the Bank’s efforts to invest in effective infrastructure, including data systems and social movements to empower the poor.

These three words – solutions, data and the poor – from my perspective, point to this: the data revolution needs to be transformational and we must act now.   Unless we fully embrace this data revolution as a bold, timely opportunity to engage citizens, identify successful case studies, leverage global partnerships and technology, strive to learn from the private sector and truly aim to be innovative, we just may miss out on keeping this revolution alive.  And while it is good news that the UN High Level Panel Report on the post-2015 development agenda confirms that the data revolution is high on the political agenda, we must also gather evidence and vigorously commit to an inclusive plan to meet this goal.

New Country Opinion Survey Data Portal Now Live

Sharon Felzer's picture
Politicians rarely take a step without them.
Corporations do them monthly.
Presidents and Prime Ministers check them daily.

Surveys and polls. They drive decision making across all sorts of organizations, corporations, governments and even palaces.  Polls inform a range of strategies, whether related to how countries build support for reform, to how organizations move the needle on behavior change (think smoking, HIV, and drunk driving), to how companies choose the colors of a box of cereal and decide on the jingo that is intended to sell that cereal (crafted specifically to never leave your memory)!

How I Use World Bank Data: Researching Access to Electricity

Dong Yang's picture
Also available in: Español | 中文 | العربية | Français

Dong Yang is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He majors in public administration. Dong got in touch with us to share his experience using World Bank Data as part of his research.

William Shakespeare once wrote, “There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes.”  Similarly, different people have different understandings of database services. Some people believe it is a type of personalized service, some believe it’s a value-added service, while others believe it’s a solutions-driven service. For us students, database services are vital to our research.
 
As a form of knowledge service, databases should be adapted to the changing needs of users, supporting both knowledge consumption and knowledge creation. A good database helps not only to convert “data” into “outcomes,” but also achieve the goal of pooling wisdom and creating knowledge by enhancing a user’s creativity with its rich resources and services. In my view, the World Bank’s Open Data has truly fulfilled these functions.

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