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.
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.
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.