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17 statistics for World Statistics Day (and why we need to invest in them)

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Today’s celebration of World Statistics Day comes right after Sunday’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, last month’s UN General Assembly agreeing the Sustainable Development Goals and the launch of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.  

A common thread? Better data leads to better lives.

World Statistics Day celebrates the role of statistics, the institutions and individuals that produce them, and the impact they have in designing and monitoring the policies and services that can improve people’s wellbeing.

The World Bank’s commitment to improve statistics and fill data gaps


There are some big gaps in country-level data - gaps in what we know. We consider this “data deprivation”  an overlooked dimension of poverty. That’s why we’re working with our partners to identify priority investments to close these gaps.

The areas we’ll initially focus on include: ensuring universal civil registration of births and deaths; improving economic statistics; expanding the coverage of household surveys in the world’s poorest countries; and taking advantage of new technologies and data sources to improve data production and use.  

Statistics are vital. We’re working to make them better, so they can be used better.

So without further ado, my colleages around the Bank have put together 17 statistics that stand out for them  - some you may know, some you may not, all of them related to the Sustainable Development Goals:

How do you access data on poverty?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

End Poverty Day tomorrow comes among heightened discussion about poverty’s causes, its measurement and what we can do to end it.   

The international extreme poverty line has been updated to $1.90/day, the recent Global Monitoring Report projects that the number of people living below this line will fall below 10% this year, and the Bank has just announced it’s stepping up efforts to boost data collection in the poorest countries, many of which suffer from “data deprivation”.

New Poverty Data Widget

These headlines are great, but how do you actually get to the data? If you want to quickly find how many people live below the international poverty line in a given country, you can use and embed this new widget that’s connected to the World Bank’s PovCalNet database:

4 more ways of accessing poverty data

Here are some other tools I find useful for accessing poverty data:

Data Lab Link Roundup: $1.90/day, haunted by big data, probability by profession, Bokeh, years left to live, and the statistical life of Martians

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Here are some things that recently caught our attention:

  • Like me, David Evans is a fan of “The Martian” - Andy Weir’s hit novel that’s just received the hollywood treatment. In the story, hundreds of millions are spent trying to bring astronaut Mark Watney home from Mars. David quotes Richard Thaler who notes  “we rarely allow any identified life to be extinguished solely for the lack of money. But of course thousands of “unidentified” people die every day for lack of simple things like mosquito nets, vaccines, or clean water.” More on why the difference between an “identified life” and a “statistical life” matters.


Data Lab Link Roundup: Targeting ads with DNA, data physicalization, AWS in plain English, the True Size of Countries, Every Noise at Once, and stop using VLOOKUP

Tariq Khokhar's picture

And we’re back! Here are some things that caught our attention last week:

Open Data for Business Tool: learning from initial pilots

Laura Manley's picture
Citizens in Nigeria participate in a
readiness assessment exercise to identify
high-priority datasets
Around the world, governments, entrepreneurs and established businesses are seeing the economic growth potential of using Open Data – data from government and other sources that can be downloaded, used and reused without charge.
As a public resource, Open Data can help launch new private-sector ventures and help existing businesses create new products and services and optimize their operations. Government data – a leading source of Open Data – can help support companies in healthcare, agriculture, energy, education, and many other industries.  

​In addition, government agencies can be most helpful to the private sector if they understand the unique needs of the businesses that currently or could potentially use their data.
The World Bank has used the Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) in more than 20 countries to provide an overall evaluation of a country’s Open Data ecosystem. With that information and insight, government agencies can identify strengths and opportunities for making their Open Data more useful and effective. The ODRA covers essential components of any national Open Data program, including:

The future of the world’s population in 4 charts

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Last week, the UN released updated population figures and projections. I just had a chance to go through them and the great key findings document (PDF, 1MB) that accompanies them.

But before I dive in, how accurate are these projections? What kind of track record do UN demographers have? The most comprehensive answer I could find was Nico Keilman’s 2001 paper which Hans Rosling refers to in this video. He notes that in 1958, when the UN projected the population in 2000 to be ~6 Billion (it was then 42 years into the future) they ended up being out by less than 5%. The short answer is: these projections are pretty good.

OK, back to the new data released in 2015: here are some of the trends that stand out for me. Note that I’m using the UN’s regional groupings rather than the World Bank’s

1) The world’s population is projected to reach 11.2 billion in 2100


There are 7.3 billion people alive today and while the world’s population continues to grow, it’s growing more slowly than in the past. We can expect to see an additional billion people added over the next 15 years, and about a billion more 10 years later, reaching a total population of 9.7 billion in 2050.

What are trade blocs and how do two of Latin America’s largest compare?

Saulo Teodoro Ferreira's picture

Trade blocs are intergovernmental agreements intended to bring economic benefits to their members by reducing barriers to trade.

Some well known trade blocs include the European Union, NAFTA and the African Union. Through encouraging foreign direct investment, increasing competition, and boosting exports, trade blocs can have numerous benefits for their members.

In Latin America, Mercosur and the more recently formed Pacific Alliance blocs together represent about 93 percent of the region's GDP at 2014 market prices. Who participates in these trade blocs and how do they compare?

Size, membership and performance of Mercosur and The Pacific Alliance

​The Pacific Alliance is a Latin American trade bloc formed in 2011 among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Together the four countries have a combined population of about 221.3 million and GDP of $2.1 trillion. The Southern Common Market (Mercosur) created in 1991, includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Together the five Mercosur countries have 285.0 million inhabitants and GDP of $3.5 trillion.

One of the areas intended to benefit from these agreements, trade within the blocs, accounts for about 4 percent of the Pacific Alliance's total trade and about 14 percent in Mercosur.

Data Lab Link Roundup: Data impacts, satellite economics, bitsquatting, a favorite number, giving trees email addresses and more...

Tariq Khokhar's picture

An example of a bit-error changing a URL as part of Artem Dinaburg's bitsquatting post  

Here are some (of the rather a lot of) things that caught our attention last week.

  • I’m a huge fan of creative open data /  civic engagement initiatives such as “Adopt a Hydrant”. Cities are in a unique position to experiment with this kind of approach, but when the City of Melbourne assigned trees with email addresses so citizens could report problems, citizens also took some time to pen little love letters to their favorite trees. This is my kind of Internet of Things.

On World Population Day, I'm older than 54% of the world's population. What about you?

Tariq Khokhar's picture


How do you fit into the global population distribution? via

I’m a huge fan of demography. I think it’s vital to understand the changing size, structure and distribution of the world’s population in order to make sense of pretty much any other trend - from poverty and inequality to urbanization and education.

Not only is population one of the most common denominators you’ll see in development statistics, it affects the decisions of individuals and policy makers on a daily basis. Where to buy a house? Where to invest in new public transport infrastructure or roads? How to plan social safety nets and welfare policies for the future?

But what about getting a personal perspective? How do you fit into the world’s population as a whole?

Using to find your place in the world

Something the data lab team has been working on, along with collaborators from around the world, is The World Population Project - an interactive tool you can find at

You enter your birthdate, sex, and country of birth, and you’re presented with a series of demographic statistics and visualizations. The chart at the top of the post shows my relative position it the World’s population (it’s effectively a population pyramid with no gender dimension) and the site then offers some other interesting perspectives on my life.