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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:

The future of the world’s population in 4 charts

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

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
Also available in: Español | Français

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
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français | العربية


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.

Data Lab Link Roundup: python pivot tables, Hypothesis for testing, data mining algorithms in plain english and more...

Tariq Khokhar's picture


The effect of time of day on mood via the Jawbone Blog

Here are some things that caught our attention last week:

  • There’s a consultation draft of the International Open Data Charter up for… consultation. It outlines a set of principles for accessing and using open data which are:

    • Open Data by Default;
    • Quality and Quantity;
    • Accessible and Useable by All;
    • Engagement and Empowerment of Citizens;
    • Collaboration for Development and Innovation;
  • My friend David MacIver is many things, but for readers of this post, he’s the author of Hypothesis. It’s a Python library that makes unit testing simpler and substantially more powerful by automating test case generation, using the concept of “property based testing” as Matt Bachmann outlines in his useful post.


Data Lab Link Roundup: June 29th, 2015

Tariq Khokhar's picture

A visual explanation of the Monty Hall Problem

I’m going to start writing more about the activities, experiments and research that we’ve been doing as part of our “Data Lab” here in the World Bank Data team and across the rest of the institution.

But first, something I enjoy on other blogs (e.g. David McKenzie over at “Development Impact”) is a “link roundup” of interesting content authors came across in the past week. So in this tradition, here are some things that caught our attention last week: 

  • News outlet Quartz launched Atlas - an aggregator for the charts and data visualizations that appear on their site. It takes advantage of their open source “Chartbuilder” tool that several other sites have taken and customized for their house styles.

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

Gráfico 1

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.