Global Statistical Literacy

What we can learn from national newspapers

In his Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Agenda “The Road to Dignity by 2030”, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a transformative agenda and stressed that “the world must acquire a new data literacy in order to be equipped with the tools, methodologies, capacities, and information necessary to shine a light on the challenges of responding to the new agenda”.

But what level of data literacy is required, and how close are we to achieving it?

In a new OECD Statistics Newsletter (Issue 66) article, I summarise our work with an international Task Team to develop a first composite indicator to measure global statistical literacy. The indicator provides an indirect measure of the use of and critical engagement with statistics in the media using articles from daily RSS feeds of the top five national newspapers for currently 122 developing countries.

The work started with the premise that a nation’s demand for (and consumption of) statistical facts and depth of critical analysis can be reflected in what journalists write. Newspaper articles are generally available, making them a good data source for a country’s literate population. To measure statistical literacy empirically, we have chosen to look at references to statistics and statistical fallacies in online articles as they are easily accessible, frequently reported and can be compared across countries.

The full article is available in the latest OECD Statistics Newsletter (Issue 66). The technical paper can be accessed in the Proceedings of the 2016 IASE Roundtable Conference.


comments powered by Disqus