Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The National Human Development Report

Human Development Reports have been around for a few years now, pioneered by the United Nations Development Program, and including data for the whole planet. Nowadays many countries are doing their own. Liberia’s just came out last Friday, and we’ve obtained a copy.

For now, let’s just look at the page with all the statistics on it. Bad news is, the numbers are HORRIBLE! Good news is that most of the numbers are old, and there’s nowhere to go but up!

  • Malaria: 26 thousand cases per 100 thousand people. More than one in four! (That would explain why Mendy and I both caught it within 3 months. ) It can’t do much for productivity to have 25% of your national workforce lying on the floor with a fever.
  • Life expectancy for women is 47, men 48. Is that normal, that men would live longer than women on average? Mendy says no. I think it’s the opposite in the US.
  • Fertility: 6.2 kids per woman! Imagine living to be 45 and having seven kids in that time. Makes you want to donate to Planned Parenthood.
  • Secondary school enrolment: 40% for men and 26% for women.
  • Female literacy: 26%. (2002) These last two numbers can be arrested relatively quickly by paying families to send their daughters to school, and the Administration is already rolling this out. Sounds insane, but they’ve done it with great success in Mexico and Brazil and other places. Otherwise many families will keep their girl kids home to work. And once a generation of kids gets through school and has kids of their own, the thought is that you won’t need to provide incentives anymore.

Most of the other numbers are too old to write about. Ex: primary school enrolment is 34% in 2002, but it could be much better by now. There’s a census coming up next year, I think. More on the report in a later post, when we’ve had a chance to read it.