Social Indicators of Development

The main social indicators of development include education, health, employment and unemployment rates and gender equality, and this post introduces students to the specific indicators which institutions such as the World Bank and United Nations use to measure how ‘developed’ a country is, and the main indices which are used to compare the levels of development of different countries.

Indicators Used to Measure Education and Development

The World Bank uses the following eight core indicators to measure how developed a country is in terms of education:

  • The net enrolment rate for pre-primary
  • The net enrolment rate for primary*
  • The net enrolment rate for secondary education
  • The gross enrolment ratio for tertiary (further) education.
  • Gender parity for primary education (using the gross enrolment ratio)**
  • primary completion rate for both sexes
  • The total number of primary aged children who are out of school.
  • Government expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP.

 

*The net enrolment rate for primary is ‘the number of pupils of official primary school age (according to ISCED97) who are enrolled in primary education as a percentage of the total children of the official school age population’.

**The gross enrolment rate for primary school The number of children enrolled in primary school (of any age) as a percentage of the total children of the official school age population

The difference between Net Enrolment Rate and Gross Enrolment Rate is explained succinctly in this blog post on NER, GER and Universal Primary Education.

Other social indicators to be covered in a future post…..

  • The Birth Rate and Fertility Rate
  • Suicide rates
  • Peacefulness

(Subjective Indicators)

  • Life satisfaction (‘happiness’ indicators)
  • Trust
  • confidence
  • well-being
  • perceived security

 

 

  1. Education
  2. Health
  3. Work
  4. Gender equality
  5. Peacefulness
  6. Democracy
  7. Corruption
  8. Consumption
  9. Pollution
  10. Leisure/ Media
  11. Civil Rights
  12. Crime/ social unrest
  13. Composite indicators of all of the above!!!

The Global Peace Index – What is it and How Useful Is It?

The Global Peace Index uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the state of peace using three thematic domains:

  • the level of Societal Safety and Security;
  • the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict;
  • the degree of Militarisation.

The data is collated by the Institute for Economics and Peace – a think tank which develops metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic value. It does this by developing global and national indices of ‘peacefulness’, analysing country level risk, and calculating the economic cost of violence, and the positive benefits of peace.

Some of they key findings from the latest 2020 report include:

  • The average level of global peacefulness fell 0.34 per cent on the 2020
    GPI. This is the ninth time in the last 12 years that global peacefulness has fallen.
  • Trends are polarising – around 80 countries got less peaceful, but 80 countries got more peaceful.
  • The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remained the world’s least peaceful region.
  • Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world, although it recorded a slight deterioration in peacefulness.
    registering any change over the past year.

The Institute for Economics and Peace says its aim is to ‘create a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about peace. We use data driven research to show that peace is a positive, tangible and achievable measure of human well-being and development.’

You can explore the Global Peace Index and download the full 2017 report for free on the Institute for Economics and Peace’s dedicated website – Vision of Humanity

Selected Key Findings of the 2017 Global Peace Index

Trends in peacefulness in 2020

There has been a divergence in peacefulness in the last decade – with the least peaceful countries getting less peaceful and the most peaceful countries getting more peaceful.

If you look at the breakdown by indicator, it is mainly refugees and internal conflicts driving the drift towards less peacefulness.

The economic costs of violence 

  • The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2020 was around $14 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP),
  • This is equivalent to 12 per cent of the world’s economic activity (gross world product), or $2000 for every person.

NB – What’s above is just an overview – I strongly recommend you explore the data further at Vision of Humanity!

How Useful is the Global Peace Index in helping us to understand development?

Strengths

On the plus side, the data seems to be non-partisan, in the sense that there doesn’t seem to be undue influence in the data selection process from developed countries – there is a heavy peace-score penalty which some of the most developed countries pay for high levels of military expenditure – most notably the United States.

Also, if we can trust the data and the number-crunching, then there is a clear correlation between sustained peacefulness in a country and that country’s level of development, and so monitoring levels of peacefulness and violence seems to be one of the most important goals in global development.

The Global Peace Index covers a lot of indicators – and the reports break them down to look at individual indicators, so you get a certain level of insight into the levels of peacefulness and violence.

I do like the focus on ‘positive peace’ and the fact that the report recognizes high levels of military expenditure as retarding investment in more positive aspects of development.

Limitations 

On the downside, I’m not convinced that all of the data is 100% valid – there has to be a lot of differences in the way data is recorded from country to country, especially in war-zones, so lots of missing conflict-deaths no doubt. This means making comparisons is difficult.

Also, I’m not sure they’ve included a broad enough range of indicators – the fact that Qatar creeps in at number 30 makes me suspicious, also – is violence against women included?

Also, I’m not clear about how the data is weighted – there’s lots of talk in the report about ‘multiplying factors’, and I don’t know enough about the maths behind the indices to evaluate how valid these calculations are.