The Human Development Report (HDR) Statistical Annex is regarded as a useful compendium of human development statistics. Traditionally, the HDR carries tables with the Human Development Index (HDI) and other composite indices and their component indicators; as well as several tables with theme-related indices and indicators.
The Human Development Report Office (HDRO) is a data user. It does not collect data directly from national statistical systems but uses indicators produced by United Nations Agencies and affiliates with data collection, compilation and dissemination mandates. Such Agencies include the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. For composite indices that account for distributions across population, micro data from international surveys and databases are used (Demographic Health Surveys, Multiple Indicators Cluster Surveys, Luxembourg Income Study, International Inequality Distribution Database, etc.).
One issue of contention with the HDR Statistical Annex is the discrepancies between national and international estimates for some of the indicators; and sometimes across various UN Reports such as the Millennium Development Goals Report. This situation often raises questions on the accuracy and reliability of data presented in the HDR, and casts doubt on the Report’s overall statistical credibility. Such discrepancies are sometimes brought to light through government complaints after the launch of the HDR; and often continue months after the launch. In some cases, the HDR data series is contested and national estimates are claimed to be more accurate. While most data discrepancy issues have been raised, understandably, in the context of the Human Development Index (HDI), increasing attention is given to other indices and indicators.
Discrepancies between national and international estimates arise from four main sources:
Since 2010, HDRO has put in place procedures aimed at contributing to the reduction of discrepancies between data sources. Some of these procedures are presented below.
The following actions have been put in place:
Upon identification of indicators to be used in the HDR and their sources, HDRO examines those that are common with the MDGs, compares sources of the data and other relevant metadata (definition, reference time, subpopulation, etc.) and initiate a conversation with the MDG Group. 2011 HDR Statistical Tables and 2011 MDG Report: Comparison of common indicators [445 KB]
The SAP has been re-activated to provide technical guidance to HDRO’s statistical activities including composite indices construction and to vet all imputations of missing data and estimates undertaken by HDRO. The SAP also advises on the processes of engagement with the wider statistical community.
Specifically, the SAP provides guidance on:
HDRO continues to work towards better understanding and use of composite indices and other statistical outputs of the HDR by supporting regional technical workshops where the methodologies of composite indices, their interpretation and their policy relevance, issues of statistical quality of data used, as well as possible national adaptation of the indices, are discussed.
HDRO also undertakes media briefings on the composite indices to promote the correct understanding and reporting of values and rankings.
United Nations Statistical Commission
The UNSC is the apex entity of the global statistical system. It brings together the Chief Statisticians from member states from around the world. It is the highest decision making body for international statistical activities especially the setting of statistical standards, the development of concepts and methods and their implementation at the national and international level.
Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics
The MAPS is a global action plan for improving development statistics and consists of six main actions that address national needs as well as international responsibilities.
The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) was launched to act as a catalyst for promoting a culture of evidence-based policymaking and monitoring in all countries, and especially in developing countries.
National Statistical Offices
The United Nations Statistics Division, in its mission to promote the development of national statistical systems, has developed a central repository of country profiles of statistical systems. The country profiles include, among others, a brief history of the country's statistical system, legal basis, the statistical programme and much more.