The Economist’s research reveals some positive (and negative) home truths

2016 # 3: SA’s Global Rankings

People, Crime, War and Peace, Environment

by Steuart Pennington

Every year the Economist ‘Pocket World in Figures’ brings out a varied set of global rankings covering 190 countries.  These range from fastest-growing economies to highest per capita consumption of marijuana to which countries imprison the most people.

And every year the measures are changed – somewhat!  It makes for interesting reading!

The stats in red have been added this year. Some have been removed from last year. (The Economist tends to rank the top 1-50 best and the bottom 1 – 50 worst (sometimes the range is less), very often SA in not placed in either, that’s what this newsletter will reflect)

There are 230 countries in the world, only 190 are ‘serious enough’ to provide data, and only 80 have a population of more than 10 million.

So, in this three-part series I will:

  • Firstly, cover the numbers: Geography, Population and Economy (August 1).

https://www.sagoodnews.co.za/newsletters/7473-economist-pocket-world-1-august.html

  • Secondly, cover the numbers: Infrastructure, Health and Technology (August 15).
  • Thirdly, cover the numbers: People, Crime and Environment (August 29).
  • Fourthly, conclude with comments.
Country Facts – 2014 SA Ranking/

countries surveyed

Comment
 
People
Beer drinkers- litres per capita SA 41/190 @ 58 lpc

SA 18 in 2014

Czech Republic (1 @ 144), Germany (2 @ 113), Ireland (7 @ 94), , Australia (13 @ 79)
Smokers, av. annual consumption SA 96/190 Russia (5), China (9), USA (58), UK (73)
Alcohol consumption per capita SA 30/190 Russia (4), Australia (20) UK (24)
Wine drinkers – litres per capita SA 65/190 @ 7.2 lpc Vatican City (1 @ 61),  France (4 @ 44), Australia (21 @ 24)
It must be noted that some 60% of SA’s adult population do not drink alcohol.  SA’s global ranking ‘per drinker’ is estimated at 11/190
Cannabis use – 15-64 year olds who have used at least once in the past year as % SA 74/190 NZ (10), US (12) Australia (16), UK (35)
Crime
Murders per 100 000 of pop SA 8/190 @ 30

SA at 7 in 2014

Honduras (1 @ 91), Brazil (12 @ 26) Namibia (16@ 17)
Robberies per 100 000 of pop SA 6/190  @ 494 Belgium (1 @ 1737), Brazil (5 @ 493), France (16 @ 192), Portugal (17 @ 175)
Total Prison population SA 11/190 (157,834 prisoners) USA (1 @ 2,217,224 million prisoners), China (2 @ 1,7m), UK (15 @ 94,964 prisoners)
Prisoners per 100 000 of pop SA 19/190 @ 290 USA (1 @ 698), Rwanda (5 @ 492) Russia (6 @ 468), Brazil (21 @ 289)
  War and Peace
Defence spending as % of GDP SA not in top 20 Afghanistan (1 @ 13%), Israel (7 @ 6%), US (23 @ 3.3%), Russia (17 @ 3.4%)
Defence spending US$b SA not in top 20 US (1 @ $600b), China (2 @ $129b), Russia (4 @ 68b), UK (5 @ $61b), Australia (13 @ $22b)
Global Peace Index SA 126/190 not in top 25 ‘most’ or bottom 25 ‘least’ Iceland (1), NZ (4), Australia (15), Russia (169), Zimbabwe (175), Syria (190)
Environment
Biggest emitters of CO2 in millions of tonnes SA 13/190 @ 460 China (1 @ 8286), USA (2 @ 5433), India (3 @ 2008), Russia (4 @ 1740), UK (10 @ 493), Australia (17 @ 373)
Biggest emitters of CO2 per capita in tonnes SA 33/190 @ 9.2

 

Qatar (1 @ 40.3), US (9 @17.6), Australia (11 @ 16.9), UK (34 @ 7.9), NZ (40 @ 7.2)
Biggest nationally protected land area as % of total land SA not in top 30 @ 6.2% Germany (4 @ 48%), Hong Kong (8 @ 41%), Monaco (15 @ 36%) UK (26 @ 27%), Zim (28 @ 27%)

There are three sources of opinion; fact, rumour and prejudice. The truth can only be found in the first. There are three elements to a story; accuracy, context and balance. Truthful stories contain all three. There are three requirements for understanding; trust, honesty and respect. Without them opinion and truth count for little. (Steuart Pennington 2013)

So, if you are interested in ‘numbers’ then I invite you to make of these stats what you will.

People often say “lies, damn lies and statistics”. But if you don’t start with the numbers where do you start? With opinion? With rumour? With hearsay? With media distortion?

There are three types of opinion I come across every day, especially in our print media:

  • Informed, factual and specific,
  • Rumoured, uninformed and crass
  • Biased, prejudiced or just plain racist

How intensely annoying is it to be told “that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it” when ignorance or prejudice is at the heart of the ‘opinion’ ……….and you have the facts.

How infuriating is it to be told something, you point out the facts and the response is “I don’t care about the facts, I’m telling you ………….blah, blah, blah!”.

Whenever I read that SA is the “worst in the world” I Google it, there are global surveys on just about everything. Three things emerge:

  • First, there are very few surveys that go beyond 80 countries (out of 230)
  • Second, countries are cagey about their bad stats. (Try and find out about tourist murders on a country by country basis, or foetal alcohol syndrome, or rape…..)
  • Third, information is hard to come by, for example most countries only report on crime stats every five years and very few put them into the public domain.

But the key issue is the narrative, how we talk about our country, how the media reports, what we hear on the news.

Why do we obsess with bus accidents in Bangladesh which we (the SABC) feel that it is vital to know of when there are ‘some’ good things happening here, which NEVER make the news.

Check out www.sagoodnews.co.za for evidence of that.

So please, if you read or hear something that you suspect as being untrue, google it, establish the facts, and then write to the offending media source, tweet it, facebook it….embarrass the offending editor.

And if it’s bad news, and true, try, if you can, to do something about it.