Pocket World in Figures 2015 by The Economist
|Pocket World in Figures 2015 by The Economist|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A treat for those who love - or need - the actual figures, unsullied by 'analysis' or spin all presented in a handy hardback book.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Economist Books|
There are people who don't understand the joy of raw data: no accompanying analysis (or spin) - just a collection of figures relevant to a particular circumstance. If you're one of those people then this book will mean little to you, but if you want a pocket (well, certainly handbag or briefcase) work of reference then this book will be a treasure. I once gave a copy to a diplomat and he kept his wife awake until the early hours as he came across another gem which she had to know without delay. The 2015 edition is the twenty fourth in the series - and diplomatic (and similar) spouses everywhere should prepare themselves for the onslaught.
The format is reassuringly familiar, beginning with the natural facts - the largest countries, highest mountains, longest rivers, largest non-polar deserts, largest lakes and largest islands. Yes - I know you can find them on Google, and you could probably find most of the facts in this book in the same way but they're all here for you in a neat little book which doesn't require online access. Moving on from the natural facts we have populations - the largest (data is from 2012), anticipated populations and the fastest and slowest growing. This is then extended by the highest and lowest birth rates and teenage births. Shockingly, in Niger more than 20% of women aged 15 to 19 gave birth (2005 - 2010). The lowest rate was in North Korea with 0.6 births per 1000 women. I wasn't certain whether to mistrust the figures or the totalitarian regime.
For those concerned about immigration the figures on biggest migrant populations in rich countries. Luxembourg is top with 43.3%. The UK comes in at nineteenth with 12.4%. The fastest growing migrant population is again Luxembourg at 11.4%. The United Kingdom is 11th at 3.7%. The country with the largest refugee population is Pakistan. As for where refugees and asylum seekers are coming from, Afghanistan tops the list by a wide margin with Somalia coming a distant second. This particular section gave me a great deal of food for thought.
There's data in the book on more than a hundred and eighty countries, with rankings on well over two hundred topics, as diverse as who buys the most wine (the Luxembourgians) or the most beer - that the Czechs, the marriage (and divorce) rate. It's interesting too to see who are the most generous supporters of charity - that's the United states, but the United Kingdom is only four percentage points behind in joint fifth place.
It's a real pleasure to dip into. I've just got one quibble. I wanted to find the World Giving Index in a hurry (yes - I was making a point!) but discovered that there's no index.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
In the wrong hands statistics can be dangerous. Have a look at The Tiger that Isn't by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot and The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2015 by The Economist at Amazon.com.
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