Development by Numbers

by Morten Jerven

How good are the numbers? In this short paper I summarize my review paper on the data quality in the most important databases on economic development. Doing development by numbers suffers from three data quality challenges – availability, reliability, and accuracy. 

Unfortunately, numbers in development are riddled with all of these challenges, and needs to be treated with outmost caution. The full paper guides you through the availability, reliability and validity problems of the most important numbers in development: GDP, Poverty Headcounts, Purchasing Power Parities, Population and different indicators relating to theMDGs and SDGs. Here we will discuss briefly some of the issues that relate to measuring poverty.