As a citizen today, it is extremely important to stay informed about the performance of one’s country. The results of various parameters are used to help us form decisions and policy, shaping the world in the future. There are several lenses that can be used to judge a country’s performance that is each very important.
Humanistic and economic are the most commonly used types of parameters because they have the greatest visible impact on the citizens of a country. Understanding or having the knowledge to interpret these various measurements helps prevent misinformation from sticking and spreading.
How are Statistics Made?
Most nations have an internal agency that is tasked with gathering and analyzing population and economic data. For the United States this is the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Internationally, entities such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, or the WHO collect and analyze vast amounts of data.
These organizations monitor the health of a country economically, developmentally, and the health of the total population. However, we generally receive the interpreted version of whatever statistic from a news publication instead of from the producer of the report. Currently, in the United States, with an unemployed population of over 33.5 million people, it is more important than ever before to be aware of and understand what these important statistics indicate.
Economically, there are many factors that come into play. Our present-day economies are multifaceted intersectional spiderwebs of commerce and trade. They are big and complicated. Because of this, using a single statistic as a measure of growth or progress doesn’t tell the whole story. There is information being left out that may contradict the results of the statistic. This can happen in several different ways; statistics can be misleading.
Starting with major economic statistics because they are the most commonly mentioned in media outlets. Economic based statistics extend from national debt to total production. These factors can be used to determine the economic health of a country.
Beginning with the gross national income and gross domestic product. They are two very similar parameters that have a distinct difference. GDP is the measurement of the total products and services produced by a nation over a specific period. This is often divided by the total population to give the GDP per capita.
The GNI is very similar but is useful in showing the role of international commerce in a country’s functioning. The GNI consists of the GDP + money from the foreign investment – money made in a country by nonresidents. By comparing these, the reliance on foreign investment or foreign trade becomes evident.
Covering the Blind Spots
While GDP and GNI are useful statistics, they fail to account for several important items. This is because GDP per capita is an average divided among all equally, unlike the disparity of the real world. Therefore, it is important to consider other statistics that might bring greater insight into the disparity of wealth or development.
The national debt can be an important concept; this may tie resources to repayment or interest instead of national projects. Unemployment is also a good measure of disparity in a country, while it is not the end-all, be-all.
There are situations that may cause unemployment to drop drastically while not contributing to quality economic growth or decreased disparity. This is the reason so many different measurements exist, many statistics have weaknesses or blind spots.
Because economic-based statistics are unable to showcase the disparity or standard of living in a country, statistics focused on humans or development have been called into action. The most comprehensive measure is the human development index.
The HDI utilizes social and economic factors in determining its value for each nation. The HDI statistic is calculated by the United Nations and gives a comprehensive value regarding life expectancy, education, and economics. Although valuable, there are many other parameters that may be used depending on the state of the country.
The literacy rate of a country is an important factor, especially for developing countries. Literacy facilitates the movement of knowledge and increases prosperity as a result. Furthermore, the birth rate and mortality rate show the rate of growth of a population. Less developed countries tend to have high birth and death rates when compared to well-developed countries.
Although there are several more, the ratio of people per doctor is an important indication of the level of development. Well developed countries have far fewer people in the population per doctor than less developed countries. This is important for limiting fatalities and maximizing the health of the population.
Put it Together Now
Knowing the information presented above should bring confidence and a firm grasp on the comparative measures used to judge a country. Most of these statistics are mainly used as comparisons for countries and the data can be presented in several different ways.
The economic parameters GDP and GNI can both be presented as a sum total or as an average per citizen. GDP and GNI are used to compare total domestic economic output versus total economic output by citizens home and abroad.
It is evident that economics fails to account for living conditions and disparity of wealth so humanistic or developmental parameters can be used to judge the quality of life. Together, these measurements are used to determine what progress has been made and what aspects of life need to be improved upon.