When you hear the words “top tourist destination,” do sandy beaches and national parks come to mind? Perhaps places with historical significance like the Egyptian pyramids or the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia? When we take a close look at the tourism data, we see that some of the top tourist destinations in the world are in low- and middle-income countries, specifically, in the East Asia and Pacific region.
A recent question from Lorenz Noe caught our eye - how do we choose which indicators to publish in World Development Indicators (WDI), a major part of our Open Data Initiative? It’s a good question, so I thought I’d write a post about that - and we’ll also post something similar in the data help desk.
1. There’s no perfect indicator
Like many things in life, selecting indicators for the WDI is not an exact science. The intention is to provide good coverage of key development issues, but many of the countries that we work with do not have the quantity - or quality - of data that exists in countries like the United States, for example.
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.
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.
Every day, 800 women die from pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Over 99% of these 289,000 annual deaths occur in developing countries, and most are avoidable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. About 62% of the deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa with another 24% in South Asia – these two regions together account for 85% of maternal mortality in the world.
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.