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Much of the world is deprived of poverty data. Let’s fix this.

Umar Serajuddin's picture
Cross posted from the Let's Talk Development Blog
Data Deprivation

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.

The global state of gender in 7 charts

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | 中文 | Français

This Sunday, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women, while calling for greater gender equality. Ahead of several high-profile campaigns and initiatives launching this week and next, I thought I’d highlight some gender data and trends that you might not know about.

Note: as these data are from different sources, some of the members of regional groupings may differ between charts, please refer to the original sources for details.

1) 91% of the world’s girls completed primary school

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Data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics and World Development Indicators

In 2012, more girls completed primary school than ever before. Since 2000, there’s been progress across the world but large disparities remain between regions and countries. Only 66% of girls in Sub Saharan Africa completed primary school in 2012, and in three countries this figure was under 35%. Educating girls is one of the best investments we can make and by 2015, developing countries as a whole are likely to reach gender parity (about the same numbers of boys and girls) in terms of primary and secondary enrollment.

Data Group launches newly revamped Statistical Capacity Indicator website

Annette Kinitz's picture

When a country’s statistical capacity improves and policy makers use accurate statistics to inform their decisions, this results in better development policy design and outcomes. In this regard, the Statistical Capacity Indicator (SCI) serves as an essential monitoring and tracking tool, as well as helps National Statistics Offices (NSOs) worldwide to address a country’s gaps in their capabilities to collect, produce, and use data.
The Statistical Capacity Indicator’s Global Reach
Since 2004, the SCI continues to assess the capacity of a developing country’s ability to adhere to international statistical standards and methods, whether or not its activities are in line with internationally recommend periodicity, and whether the data are available in a timely fashion.

To this end, there are 25 indicators that annually monitor and “grade” a country’s statistical capacity progress and thus form the basis for the overall SCI score calculation.
While NSOs are the main users of the SCI score, the World Bank Group, international development agencies, and donor countries also refer to the SCI score for their own evaluation and monitoring purposes.

New surveys reveal dynamism, challenges of open data-driven businesses in developing countries

Alla Morrison's picture

Open data for economic growth continues to create buzz in all circles.  We wrote about it ourselves on this blog site earlier in the year.  You can barely utter the phrase without somebody mentioning the McKinsey report and the $3 trillion open data market.  The Economist gave the subject credibility with its talk about a 'new goldmine.' Omidyar published a report a few months ago that made $13 trillion the new $3 trillion.  The wonderful folks at New York University's GovLab launched the OpenData500 to much fanfare.  The World Bank Group got into the act with this study.  The Shakespeare report was among the first to bring attention to open data's many possibilities. Furthermore, governments worldwide now routinely seem to insert economic growth in their policy recommendations about open data – and the list is long and growing.


Geographic distribution of companies we surveyed. Here is the complete list.
We hope to publish a detailed report shortly but here meanwhile are a few of the regional findings in greater detail.

Taking a closer look at youth-related data: regional trends, differences

Hiroko Maeda's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français | العربية

August 12 marked the 15th anniversary of International Youth Day, which got me thinking – what kind of data do we have on young people?  The United Nations defines youth as the population aged 15-24.

This is a group that is in a transition period from childhood to adulthood.  Since this period (ages 15-24) affects adulthood more directly than childhood, youth-related data can provide insights into how we can better address their future opportunities and challenges.

"The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation."
– Ray Wilbur, American educator

​Where are the highest concentrations of young people?

In 2013, people who were born between 1989 and 1998 accounted for 17% of the world's total population – 1.2 billion. While the world's population continues to grow, the youth population has declined gradually after it peaked in 2010.  The youth population in high-income countries decreased by 6 million between 2010 and 2013, a reflection of the aging population trend in this income group.

What exactly is the US Government’s Digital Services Playbook?

Tariq Khokhar's picture
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US Digital Services Playbook on Github

The White House launched a new “US Digital Service” yesterday - a small team of of word-class technology experts tasked with working with other government agencies to improve the design and delivery of digital services. This is a similar idea to the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) which has succeeded in bringing into government the technology approaches once found only in the more dynamic elements of the private sector.  What are these approaches?

The Digital Services Playbook

The playbook outlines 13 specific strategies that draw on successful best practice from the private sector that, if followed together, “help government build effective digital services.” The plays are:

  1. Understand what people need
  2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish
  3. Make it simple and intuitive
  4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices
  5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery
  6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable
  7. Bring in experienced teams
  8. Choose a modern technology stack
  9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment
  10. Automate testing and deployments
  11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes
  12. Use data to drive decisions
  13. Default to open

As with the GDS’ 10 Design Principles, I like the clarity with which these are explained,  and that the entire playbook is published on Github, and open for public comment and collaboration. I’d recommend taking a few minutes to read it and think about how many of the approaches your government or institution uses.

Women in Ministerial Positions Worldwide: Looking at the Data Up Close

Masako Hiraga's picture

Edit 5/19/2014: The blog is based on the IPU data as of January 2012. Our friend Andy Kotikula points out that since then, Bhutan has elected its first female minister. We also note that many more women ministers were elected, and 6 countries in Table 1 -  The Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, and Singapore - now have women ministers. The new IPU data as of January 2014 will be available in the Gender Data Portal and WDI on July 1, 2014.

A new World Bank report, Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity, underscores the importance of enabling girls and women to fulfill their potential and make their voices heard. For women in the developing world who work in ministerial positions, are their voices being heard?  The data shows us that more than 20% of elected ministers in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa are women.

Using data published in the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, these two regions’ share of women in ministerial positions are a 10-percentage-point higher than other regions, an encouraging trend since 2005.  For me, one  really eye-opening insight is this: here are two regions with very different socio-economic characteristics: Latin America and the Caribbean, with  mostly middle income countries and high levels of school enrollments, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a majority of low income countries with lower levels of school enrollments. Yet they both have the highest level of female political representation compared to other regions.

The time is right for an open data fund

Prasanna Lal Das's picture
Also available in: Español | Français

Nobody cares about open data. And they shouldn’t. What people care about are jobs, clean air, safety and security, education, health, and the like. And for open data to be relevant and meaningful, it must contribute to what people care about and need.

We wrote a few weeks ago that the private sector is increasingly using open data in ways that are not only commercially viable but also produce measurable social impact. What is missing is financing that can help catalyze the growth of data fueled businesses in emerging economies. We are developing a fund that will address this precise need.

The context
Companies such as Climate Corporation, Opower, Brightscope, Panjiva, Zillow, Digital Data Divide and many others have shown that it’s possible to be disruptive (in established sectors such as agriculture, health and education), innovative (across the data spectrum - from collection to storage to analytics to dissemination), profitable, and socially impactful at the same time (see Climate Corporation’s Ines Kapphan, Metabiota’s Ash Casselman, and the GovLabs@NYU’s Joel Gurin talk about how how open data based companies are tackling complex, sophisticated development problems in high-impact business sectors – their path breaking work is clear evidence of the growing maturity of the industry).

From Participation to Opportunity in Women's Work: What Data Tell Us

Jeni Klugman's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français

A new World Bank report, Gender at Work, emphasizes the need for multidimensional assessments of gender equality in the world of work. A fuller picture of the problem lends to more comprehensive policy solutions.

It is tempting to use a single indicator as the gauge of a country’s standing on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. None is more alluring than labor force participation. It is consistently available and provided yearly for the vast majority of countries—currently 183 out of 214 on the Gender Data Portal. This is an exception in the universe of economic gender indicators, which are often patchy, irregular, and unreliable. However, this leaves an incomplete and even misguided impression of how countries fare.