Understanding the data

The aim of the Human Development Report is to stimulate global, regional and national policy discussions on issues that are relevant to human development. To be of relevance, the data in the Report requires the highest standards of data quality, consistency, transparency and accountability. Several steps are taken each year to ensure that the Report maintains high quality and reliability. These steps include partnering with many national and international statistical agencies. In this section, you will find an extensive array of information to help understand how the data presented in the Report indicator tables are compiled and how they should be used and interpreted.

You will find all of the sources for the data used and the contact information for the major statistical agencies. These are often specialized agencies of the United Nations system working on issues such as health—World Health Organization (WHO), education—United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, and labour market statistics—International Labour Organization (ILO) and many more, including for the first time mean years of schooling data from Barro and Lee.

Several mechanisms have also been adopted by the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) to ensure that the data we publish is of high quality and relevance. In addition to the small in-house team of qualified statisticians, a Senior Statistical Advisor reviews all of HDRO's statistical work. This process is supplemented by consultations with a standing Statistical Advisory Panel (SAP). A select group of distinguished national, international professionals and select United Nations Statistical Commission members participate in the Advisory Panel while the peer review process is done through leading regional and national statistical offices as well as international organizations.

Nonetheless several data gaps and quality issues remain. These include issues of inconsistency and incoherence between international data series and the timing of data revisions by different agencies. International cooperation is improving these deficiencies and HDRO is an active participant in this process, bringing these issues to light in the global report and seeking resolution from the relevant agencies.

Select writings on issues of statistical methodology that serve as the theoretical background for the measurement of human development are also presented. These are a collection of background papers from different editions of the Report that highlight important measurement issues, major international initiatives and also innovative ways of measuring human development.