Human Progress does not produce its own data. All of our datasets come from reputable external sources (see Data Sources). When interacting with the data, users should be aware of the following:

Dynamic and Static Datasets

Most of our datasets deal with long-term global trends. For example, “Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 Live Births” covers the period between 1960 and 2015 in almost 200 countries. We call these datasets “dynamic,” in the sense that they allow the users to interact with the data in a multitude of ways (e.g., to choose from a variety of visualizations, to pick different countries and regions, to select specific time periods, and so on). However, some datasets are less comprehensive (e.g., the price of U.S. airline tickets). These “static” datasets are still useful in documenting human progress, but they do not allow for much user interactivity. 

Interpolation of Dynamic Datasets

In most cases, the data from the original source are incomplete. Often, small countries lack data altogether. Even large countries tend to lack data for one or more years. To create more useful visualizations, Human Progress interpolates missing data (i.e., we construct new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points). Those are always clearly indicated using an asterisk (*). 

Regional Calculations for Line Charts

Some of our original sources contain data for individual countries as well as regional data. Unfortunately, our original sources group individual countries in different ways, and that can be confusing. Furthermore, some of our original sources weigh their regional averages by the gross domestic product (GDP) or the population size of individual countries. Other original sources, however, calculate their regional values using simple averages only. 

To create a consistent user experience, we have scrubbed the original regional values from the original datasets and offer the user a bespoke system for regional calculations instead. Before continuing to read, please note:

Regional calculations are only relevant with regard to our line chart visualizations. They are meant to provide an indication of the state of affairs in different regions but should not be treated as authoritative. Regional values are created using a set of distinct criteria, and users dissatisfied with those criteria are encouraged to calculate their own regional values using a different methodology. 

To ensure greater accuracy of our regional values, Human Progress is programmed to generate regional values only when at least 75 percent of the population in any given region is represented by the underlying data. Please note that this is not the same as calculating regional values on the basis of at least 75 percent of the country data in any given region being present. 

To illustrate the above distinction, consider the example of the infant mortality rate in East Asia in 1976. The regional value for that year will only be calculated if a datum for China in 1976 is available. If a datum for China in 1976 is not available, the regional value will not be generated. The latter will be true even if data for all the other countries and territories in East Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan) are available because China accounted for more than 25 percent of the region’s population in 1976.

Regional Groups 

Our bespoke system for regional calculations allows us to group countries in any way we like. The users can see the names of the countries that make up a particular region by moving their cursors over the region’s name in the Country/Region selection box. Please note:

The tooltip is intended to show the names of countries that make up a particular region. However, datasets are often incomplete; the data for some countries that make up a particular region may not be available, and as a result the tooltip may not accurately reflect the names of the countries that in fact make up a particular region.

That said, our regional and economic groupings will be familiar to the users, because they follow the long-established United Nations and World Bank methodologies, respectively. 

Finally, the users are urged to compare only regions that share the same methodology (i.e., a region based on the World Bank methodology should be compared with other regions based on the World Bank methodology).  

Final Note

Regional values are calculated only for data after 1950.