Max Roser, who created and maintains Our World In Data at the University of Oxford, complains that we never see such a headline in the newspapers, although, on average, this would have been an accurate title every single day during the last 25 years.
By: Lykke E. Andersen*
It’s Carnaval week/month in Bolivia – the time of year when most beer is drunk. Beer prices have just gone up again, now reaching an outrageous Bs. 9, or more, for a small can of standard beer in supermarkets. This corresponds to USD 3.64 for 1 liter of beer, way more than it costs in rich countries such as Denmark.
If we take into account the low level of wages in Bolivia and the high prices of beer, Bolivia becomes one of the most expensive places in the world for beer lovers. On average, Bolivians have to work about 145 minutes to afford 1 liter of beer (1), whereas in the United States on average they only have to work for 10 minutes (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Minutes of work required to purchase 1 liter of beer in a supermarket
By: Lisbeth Vogensen*
One common indicator used in many family planning and sexual and reproductive health research documents is that of unmet need for contraception/family planning (see Figure 1). In most cases, this unmet need indicator is followed by this description: percentage of women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union (1). Running into this indicator not only makes the feminist inside me stand up in protest, it also lets me know that the information presented on unmet need is incomplete. This unmet need data that only includes women who are married (2) is then generalized to be representative of the entire country/region/world.
Figure 1: Percentage of women with an unmet need for family planning (any method) among those aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union: most recent data available
Source: World Contraceptive Patterns 2013 (United Nations, 2013), available from www.unpopulation.org.
In a March 2013 report, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented comparative cross-country data on the state of violence against women in 12 nations across Latin America and the Caribbean. As the subsequent infographic by Hispanically Speaking News illustrates, Bolivia topped the chart by some margin.
When asked about their experiences over the past 12 months, one in five Bolivian women claimed to have been victims of physical abuse, with 53.3 percent of women reporting physical violence by a partner.
Intimate partner violence in Bolivia is 35 percent larger than the next highest abuse rate of 38.6 percent for both Colombia and Peru. At 17 percent, Dominican Republic appear to have the lowest, albeit still unacceptably high, level of partner violence against women. Read More »
In 1996 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) estimated that the world was producing enough food to provide each person with 2,700 calories per day. Each day an average grown man needs around 2,500 calories per day, a grown woman around 2,000 calories, and children less. In other words, in the mid-nineties, there was more than enough food to keep everyone in the world adequately fed. Yet nearly 1 billion people, around 17 percent of the population at that time, were undernourished. What was happening?
According to the FAO, undernourishment occurs when, for at least a year, a person is unable to eat enough calories to meet the minimum energy needs of an inactive lifestyle. It does not take into account the needs of those who have a physically active life, such as farmers or manual laborers, and therefore need more calories to stay strong and healthy. Nor does it take into account deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals which can have negative long-term effects on health, such as weak bones and skeletal deformities caused by a lack of vitamin D.
Based on the latest country data on population numbers, availability and distribution of food, and the ability of people to afford and physically access that food, the 2012 FAO report,’The State of Food Insecurity in the World‘ reveals a lot about undernourishment around the world over the past two decades.
Chatham House, a London based international affairs think tank and home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, has developed Resource Futures, an excellent and evidence-loaded infographic that illustrates the new political economy of global resources.
Visitors to the interactive site are invited to visually explore resource use around the world and are enlightened to the mapping of current trends. Starting with trends in consumption, data is graphed onto a world map and a navigation tool at the bottom of the screen allows one to switch seamlessly between statistics for different crops, fish and meat, timber, fossil fuels and metals: Read More »
Here’s a question for you: how do we know that all the aid given to Africa has had any effect? The tricky thing about trying to answer this question, and analyzing problems such as global poverty, is that the world cannot be treated as a laboratory experiment. We cannot create two identical Africas and give aid to one and not the other, keeping all the other variables such as political conditions, climate, and population, constant.
What happens in fields such as medicine, when we want to know whether a drug works or not? Suppose we’ve developed a new pill which, we think, prevents headaches. We find two chronic headache-sufferers who are identical in terms of gender, age, and general health, and X takes the pill every day but not Y. After a month it turns out that X no longer suffers headaches but Y does. What can we conclude? Well, nothing at all. Because we have no way of knowing what would have happened if X hadn’t taken the medicine – maybe his headaches would have disappeared anyway because he finally started wearing his glasses.
It has been long established that national measures of wealth, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), do not tell the whole story of people’s lives. The search for a more inclusive representation of what is important has been on for a few decades. The Human Development Index (HDI), for example, was first published in 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a direct response to Amartya Sen’s capability approach. This Nobel Prize winning economist’s groundbreaking insights argued that governments should not only focus on increasing citizens’ monetary wealth, but on ensuring that they are able and capable of achieving their dreams, goals and full potential in the society they live in. The HDI, which was co-created by Sen himself, is a composite measure that takes into account the GDP, life expectancy and education levels in each country. Although it is still by no means perfect, since its conception, critiques of the HDI, namely measurement errors and the important things it still does not capture, have been incrementally addressed and incorporated into later versions. For example, the 2010 HDI was the first to factor in inequalities in the three mesaures between the world’s nations, creating a separate Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). You can download the full 2011 country rankings here.
Live Research Bulletin: How are private institutions helping to make the environment count in Latin America? (Part II)
Throughout the months of November and December, Development Roast will share with you a series of INESAD Live Research updates on how different institutions and individuals are rallying behind the call for green growth by trying to integrate the environment in national and sectoral accounting calculations. In Part I we discussed how the governments of Latin America are experimenting with green accounting. Today, we complete the two part live research update by taking a look at other efforts making the environment count in the region.
Where there is a dearth of government resources to compile green accounts (see our previous discussion of theory behind the techniques involved), international organizations, universities, and independent research institutions often fill the gap. Some environmental accounting studies are limited to calculating environmental costs of specific industries like logging in the Brazilian Amazon and mining in Chile. Others, like the Institute of Advanced Development Studies (INESAD)’s Bolivia’s green national accounts, take on the entire economy. Read More »
“…Gross national product … counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage….Yet [it] does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.”
Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968
It has long been established that the way that national wealth is calculated is a poor measure of development. Gross and Net Domestic Products (GDP and NDP) positively count only the production of material goods, including weapons, cigarettes and handcuffs, but do not count some of the positive aspects of society like poetry, relationships, and music. Nor does it deduct ‘progress’ when the health of the environment, human beings or animals is negatively affected at the hand of pollution and toxic industries. Or give credit to ecosystems for the services they provide to nourish people and planet, like the rainforest’s capacity to purify air, stabilize soils and nutrients, curb global warming, and provide food, shelter, and cultural sustenance to millions of people. For many, such deductions and credits would mean having to put a dollar value on things in life that are just too sacred to be commoditized. For others, such a value is the first step to making them visible, and thus making them count, when they were taken for granted before. Throughout the month of November, Development Roast has shared with you a series of INESAD Live Research updates on how whole nations are rallying behind the call for green growth by trying to integrate the environment in national accounting calculations. Today, we start with the first of a two-part update on Latin America.