Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist

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Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist

Category: Reference
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: We swear by Pocket World in Figures and this year's edition has not disappointed but the details of who travels most by car each year have given us pause for thought.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1846684739

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There are some books which it's very difficult to review and Pocket World in Figures 2012 is a perfect example. Each year The Economist completely updates all the figures and reissues them in a format which, even if it won't fit into every pocket, is certainly going to be no problem in a briefcase or readily available in a desk drawer. And it is the type of book which you're going to want to have readily available. It's not a reference book to have tucked away on a shelf – once you find that it is superbly easy to use you're going to want to have it to hand. The problem is that the book is a very similar format every year, just as essential as the year before and still the book which it's unwise to loan to anyone as there's a strong chance it won't return.

So, what is it? In bald terms it's filled with facts and figures on over 200 different topics, covering over 190 countries and with detailed profiles of over 65 of the world's major economies. There's a profile of the world itself and the Euro area. If you're addicted to facts and figures then you can't be without it. Find out where people live the longest, or die the youngest. Investigate economic growth rates or who spends the most on defence, or which countries have the highest number of obese people – and how marriage rates vary.

Each year I like to take a single topic and see what I learn from a double page spread. This year I looked at Workers of the World. The highest percentage of the population in the labour force is Qatar with 70.8%. The United States has 53.1% and the United Kingdom doesn't even appear in the top forty. Qatar also has the most male workforce at 88.1%, whilst the most female workforce is Papua New Guinea at 55.6%. The lowest percentage of the population in the workforce is 23.8% and, unsurprisingly, that's Iran, closely followed by the West bank and Gaza. The highest rate of unemployment is 33.8% in Namibia. Spain has a surprising 18%, Ireland 11.7% and Greece and Portugal tie at 9.5%. It's not difficult to understand the problems these countries face.

Some figures will surprise you. You may even want to question them. Who do you think travels the most Km per person by car each year? Wrong – it's not the United States. Peru (Peru ?) comfortably beats the US into second place. The average Pakistani travels almost twice as far as the average UK citizen – but Tunisia beats Pakistan into fourth place. I'm loathe to question the sainted Economist – but I think I might need to know a little more about this before taking it at face value.

A senior diplomat once told me that getting hold of reliable statistics quickly was a constant problem and that this book was a real boon. Most statistics date from 2009 in this edition but it would be difficult to be more up-to-date in most circumstances.

We're consistently impressed by books by The Economist – you might like to have a look at what they offer.

Buy Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2012 by The Economist at Amazon.com.


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