Friday, November 20, 2015

The Global Gender Gap Report, 2015

  The 2015  Global Gender Gap Report is out.  It's part of an annual series published by the World Economic Forum, focusing on how equal men and women appear to be globally in employment, education, health outcomes and political participation*.

The top ten countries (with the greatest gender equality measures overall) in 2015 are:  Iceland (1), Norway (2), Finland (3), Sweden (4), Ireland (5), Rwanda (6), Philippines (7), Switzerland (8), Slovenia (9) and New Zealand (10).

Slovenia is a newcomer to that group.   Note that because the reports focus on gaps between men and women, not overall levels of, say, political access, poorer nations can rise high in these rankings.

The bottom ten countries in 2015 are Egypt (136), Mali (137), Lebanon (138), Morocco (139), Jordan (140), Iran (141), Chad (142), Syria (143), Pakistan (144) and Yemen (145). 

Yemen has stayed firmly at the bottom of these rankings for several years.  I went back several years to check what might have happened to Syria's relative ranking, given the civil war that is raging there.  Data on Syria was first included only in 2006 (some partial data), but it does look like Syria has slipped somewhat in the last few years.  Still, with the exception of 2008, Syria's rankings were either in the bottom ten countries or just above that group. 

You can look at the overall index and the four sub-indexes for all the included countries in Table 3 of the report.  That will also give you some ideas about what is driving the above results.  Note that it gives you no idea if any particular ranking in that table is that country's desired outcome.  One might argue that gender equality is so high in the Nordic countries because it IS a desired outcome there.

The United States ranked 28th in the overall index this year.  The report goes into much more detail about the reasons why individual countries, including the United States, moved up or down in the rankings.

*  Somewhere I have a long post criticizing some of the methodological choices in that series, but, alas and alack, I cannot find it.  This short post from 2009 must suffice instead. 

Still, the gist of my criticism is partly to do with the way the four sub-indexes on gender equality are created and how they are aggregated.  The actual data the reports use consist of a handful or two of easily available statistical indicators (the health index, as an example, uses only two measures).  It's important to keep in mind that those statistics are  the information in  the reports; to end up with the various sub-indexes and the final overall index requires decisions about how to manipulate the initial statistics and how to aggregate them.  These choices are by their very character somewhat arbitrary.

On the other hand, selecting a few widely available statistics and then following how countries do on them over years is not a bad starting point.  It guarantees that the maximum number of countries can be included in the reports.