Archives for posts with tag: HDI

When I was getting vaccinated for a trip to the Middle East, I was surprised to find the doctor asking me which part of Turkey I’d be visiting. She pulled out a map that looked something like this:

I was shocked because Turkey had to be the most developed country we would visit on that trip; how could they the only one where Malaria shots are necessary in certain parts. I felt even more shocked after I visited Istanbul, where its level of development seemed otherworldly compared to Damascus, Amman, Beirut, or even Jerusalem. They have a transit system that is efficient, people sort of obeyed traffic rules, and everything looked much better maintained. It felt like a European city, while the others felt like something else. I marveled at Istanbul’s unique mix of secularism  and development. Yet apparently for someone living in Diyarbakir, Malaria is a part of life.

What’s more startling is that Turkey’s HDI for 2010 is 0.679, behind Jordan and Tunisia and not far ahead of Algeria [source]. How could a city that seemed so modern be in a country less developed than resource-starved Jordan, who has some 13 miles of coastline and a mostly desertous landscape. Jordan’s GDP (PPP) per head in 2010 was $5,400 while Turkey’s is more than twice that at $12,300 [source]. There has been research from multiple good sources on the matter:

A great research publication called “Regional Disparities and Territorial Indicators in Turkey: Socio-Economic  Development Index (SEDI)” written by Metin ÖZASLAN, Bülent DINCER, and Hüseyin ÖZGÜR (found here) delves into this question with depth and authority I can’t match, so I’m going to just post some of their findings and briefly summarize them. They use 58 different indicators from myriad sources to measure provincial development and collate them into one index called the SEDI. Unfortunately this means that, like the HDI value from measureofamerica.org we cannot compare these values directly to other countries. Fortunately they do go into great detail in the article on their methodology and it appears to check out. Time for some cool maps thanks to this article.

Many things stand out. Most of Turkey’s most developed regions are in the western part of Turkey, with the lowest SEDI scored provinces all being in the east.Four Cities+suburbs stand out as the most developed provinces in Turkey: Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, and Bursa. These provinces (and a province that includes suburbs of from Istanbul) have a combined population of 26.14 million, according to Turkstat. This means that of Turkey’s 73 million people, just over a 3rd live in these five most developed provinces [source]. This shouldn’t seem so troubling, when you look at the US (as we did in the previous blog) you can see its not so uncommon for states (especially ones with big cities) to score higher on development indicators. The problem with Turkey is it’s development curve among provinces is much steeper than the disparity among US states. A graph from the same source illustrates this effectively:

Istanbul’s score dwarfs the others, its more than four times that of 6th ranked Eskişehir province. The top five provinces themselves dwarf the remainder of the provinces.

Here is a map of the geographical regions of Turkey using the same source. I edited it to show which regions have above average and below average scores (note: mediterranean is almost perfectly at the average):

Now here is an unedited graph showing the regional SEDI scores from the same source:

This paints a picture of Turkey having three regions that this source claims, drive most economic growth in Turkey, with Marmara far outpacing the rest of the country. Meanwhile the two easternmost regions of Turkey experience the least amount of growth or development. This doesn’t perfectly coincide with the Malaria map I showed earlier, but I suspect that map was geared towards ease of use and probably wanted to include the entire southern border region to aid tourists traveling by land.

The next article I am going to use comes from the World Bank, titled “Turkey: Country Economic Memorandum Volume I – Main Report” it can be found here and the section I will cite begins on chapter 6, page 29 (41 in adobe). This article compares regional GDP per head variation among European countries and shows its findings in this graph:

Turkey ties with Belgium, a country known for its Flemish/Wallonian divide (a north/south divide in this case). I am surprised by the other results in this publication, as I had assumed Italy’s regional GDP variation would exceed the UK’s.

This article points out that from 1980 to 2000 Turkey’s regional disparity has either increased (gotten worse) or stayed the same. It points out that while Industrial activity has expanded in the Western half of Turkey, the East remains primarily employed by agriculture, and that hours/employee are considerably lower in the East. Finally, the article gives some explanations for why Turkey’s institutions might inhibit growth in the Eastern regions; it states that Turkey’s centralized planning and allocation of resources for things like infrastructure and public works projects gives local officials few options to raise their provinces from poverty and underemployment.

A few quick statistics can be found in this report from the European Commission titled “Second report on economic and social cohesion: Regional Features in Turkey” found here. It states:

“between east and west: two-thirds of the population were concentrated in the west of the country in half the land area, accounting for 82% of national GDP, and with GDP per head 23% above the national average (41% of the EU average). In the east, GDP per head was 53% of the national average, much the same as 10 years earlier”

One word that is missing from all of these articles is “Kurd” which is surprising because Kurds make up the largest ethnic minority in Turkey with 15 million living there, most of them are located in the Eastern part of Turkey. Here is a map I found from the University of Texas here that shows where most Kurds live:,

I found another, more recent map here that looks at recent elections results in Turkey in 2011:


It’s worth noting that Turkey has a unique 10% electoral threshold that prevents most Kurdish interest parties from electing members into parliament; the easiest way to circumvent this rule is to run candidates as independents.

There seems to be a strong correlation (using these two maps and the first map) between Kurds and low development. I am not trying to imply that Kurds don’t work as hard, but simply pointing out that like Appalachia and the Mississippi Embayment, the Kurdish region of Turkey appears to lag behind the rest of Turkey. Something I would be very interested in seeing is how a partition of Turkey that removed part Eastern Turkey from the rest would effect the HDI value Turkey currently enjoys. Using the 3 sources from the beginning of this article, it seems clear that Turkey’s Western half would benefit (at least in its HDI score) if its indicators were measured separately from the Eastern/Kurdish part. Of course the political ramifications of such an outcome would be significant. I’ll leave that debate for the citizens of Turkey, be it Kurds or Turks.

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recently I wrote about the trend of low HDI scores in the US South and Appalachia. This time I want to focus on a metric found from the same source. The metric of life expectancy from birth is actually a good way of comparing US congressional districts to other countries.

The CIA World Factbook has a listing of most nations’ average life expectancy from birth here. It’s important to note that because this is an actual year-based estimate, the rankings for congressional districts and countries is tightly ranked, and misreporting statistics from developing countries is a possibility. I want to stress that these are averages so while someone living 2 years less might not seem like much, but this is the result of everyone in a district/country living longer or shorter lives. Some of these statistics will make you question the world.

While I’ll mention the regional disparity briefly, I’d like to focus on the comparison of life expectancy with certain US congressional districts (CDs) and other countries as well.

Here is a map of the bottom 100 CDs in the US:

Many things stand out compared to the HDI graph representing the bottom 100, though the US South+Appalachia region is similarly represented in this map.

Firstly, the West Coast does considerably better than the East Coast, with only a single CD making the list west of Texas. Second, cities in many Eastern States have lower comparative life expectancies than their HDI suggests. Regions of the Rust Belt including North Ohio and the Detroit metro area score poorly. The mid-Atlantic cities Philadelphia and Baltimore do poorly, but the rest of the Northeast does well.

This map shows the bottom 25 districts in the US, these districts only live 72 to to 75 years on average (I’ll provide a complete table of average life expectancy later).

Much like the bottom 25 districts by HDI, the bottom 25 in life expectancy are almost all inside the US South and Appalachian regions. The Mississippi embayment and the Kentucky-West Virginia border are the worst hit.

Here is a listing of the bottom 100 districts by age. But I’ve added a column for countries with similar life expectancies for the bottom 50. I got these numbers here and here.

West Virgini 3 72.9 Egypt 72.66
Kentucky 5 73.6  Thailand 73.6
Mississippi 2 73.6 Bulgaria 73.59
Alabama 4 74.3 Serbia 74.32
Pennsylvania 2 74.4 Mauritius 74.48
Oklahoma 2 74.5 Algeria 74.5
Pennsylvania 1 74.5 Colombia 74.55
Georgia 2 74.6 China 74.68
Alabama 3 74.7 Syria 74.69
Alabama 7 74.7 Cook Islands 74.7
Louisiana 7 74.8 Hungary 74.79
Arkansas 1 74.8 Tunisia 75.01
Tennessee 8 75.0 Lebanon 75.01
Tennessee 9 75.0 West Bank 75.01
Mississippi 3 75.0  Macedonia 75.14
North Caroli 1 75.0 Tonga 75.16
Louisiana 5 75.0 ” “
Arkansas 4 75.1 ” “
Georgia 1 75.1 ” “
Missouri 8 75.1 ” “
Alabama 1 75.1 ” “
Georgia 8 75.1 ” “
Mississippi 4 75.2 ” “
South Caroli 6 75.3 Lithuania 75.34
Florida 4 75.3 ” “
Louisiana 4 75.3 ” “
Mississippi 1 75.4 Antigua and Barbuda 75.48
Georgia 12 75.4 ” “
Arkansas 2 75.4 ” “
Michigan 13 75.4 ” “
Michigan 14 75.4 ” “
Kentucky 1 75.5 ” “
Maryland 7 75.5 ” “
Louisiana 6 75.5 ” “
District of Columbia 75.6 ” “
Louisiana 1 75.6 ” “
Oklahoma 4 75.6 ” “
South Caroli 5 75.7  Ecuador 75.73
Louisiana 3 75.7 Croatia 75.79
Alabama 2 75.7
Alabama 6 75.7
Tennessee 1 75.7
Virginia 9 75.7
West Virgini 2 75.9  Morocco 75.9
Louisiana 2 75.9
Tennessee 4 75.9
Oklahoma 5 76.0  Poland 76.05
North Caroli 7 76.0
Oklahoma 3 76.0
Oklahoma 1 76.0
Virginia 3 76.0
Alabama 5 76.1
Texas 1 76.1
Ohio 6 76.2
Kentucky 4 76.3
Illinois 12 76.3
South Caroli 3 76.3
Texas 13 76.4
Tennessee 7 76.4
Virginia 4 76.5
Georgia 3 76.5 Mexico 76.47
Texas 8 76.5
Michigan 5 76.6
Tennessee 6 76.6
Kentucky 3 76.6
Tennessee 3 76.6
Indiana 7 76.6
Texas 5 76.6
Michigan 11 76.7
North Caroli 10 76.7
Missouri 5 76.7
West Virgini 1 76.7
North Caroli 3 76.7
South Caroli 4 76.7
Texas 19 76.8
North Caroli 8 76.8
Texas 2 76.8
Georgia 11 76.9
Ohio 15 76.9
North Caroli 2 76.9
Maryland 3 76.9
Indiana 1 76.9
California 2 76.9
Georgia 10 76.9
Maryland 2 77.0
Ohio 17 77.0
Ohio 9 77.0
Missouri 4 77.1
North Caroli 5 77.1
Virginia 5 77.1
Kansas 4 77.1
Indiana 8 77.1
Wisconsin 4 77.2
Missouri 3 77.2
Tennessee 2 77.2
Ohio 10 77.2
Ohio 11 77.2
Tennessee 5 77.2
Indiana 6 77.2
Texas 14 77.2

Surprisingly, many countries perform better than US congressional districts. Eastern Kentucky has the same life expectancy of someone in Thailand, think about that for a second. Not only are parts of the US much lower than the US average, they’re actually much lower than most developed countries. The US  ranks 50th overall on the CIA World Factbook, th0ugh a number of meaningless micro-states and dependent territories distort this ranking somewhat. US life expectancy raises many important questions about access to healthcare and our dietary habits among other things.

Finally, I want to point out that some of these statistics are hard to accept. Jordan ranks higher than the Netherlands, for example. and Bosnia, despite its violent recent history has a higher life expectancy than Denmark. I’m not necessarily accusing these countries of outright dishonesty, but perhaps their methodology was vulnerable to inaccuracies. There are hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Jordan, many of them weren’t born in hospitals so its possible that age estimates could be wrong. This isn’t the first time I’ve suspected this, in a much earlier blog on female literacy I found that the country of Georgia claims 100% literacy, despite having a GDP per capita lower than Syria, and a very rare and complicated language, in addition to smaller languages like Tsez being spoken. Take these statistics for what you will, its intriguing no less.

Unfortunately this isn’t a subject where I can compare countries and their regions to other countries. Instead, here is a selection of articles and related maps that deal with the problem of uneven growth across various counties. I want to stress that these graphs use different measurements from different time periods and thus cannot be compared with each other. I will provide links for the maps I use and give a brief summary of the research that corresponds with them.

The first example I would like to present is from a familiar source, the USA. here we can use a brilliant website designed by social/political scientists to display a variety of statistics relating to US development. using measureofamerica.org you can access an HDI map of the US that is divisible to the congressional district level. here is a state level map of the US using their latest dataset.

I got this map here it covers most US cultural regions that I accept with its omission of Appalachia NOTWITHSTANDING.

look at measure of america. wow here is the HDI of the US

this website is really interesting.

Look at what happens when you gauge obesity and diabetes in the USA:

This shows a tendency of Appalachia and southern US states to be have comparatively bad health. The West and New England do well here. How about Diabetes?

between these two maps, the unhealthiness of Appalachia stays strong. What are they doing wrong?

Diane Sawyer has some ideas about this

here are some other maps from Appalachian Regional Commission 

This shows college completion rates in the region and compares it to the US average.

Another troubled area represented on the HDI map is the US South. Breaking the region down by Congressional District allows us to look closer at regional disparity by showing disparity inside states.

Using the HDI data from our earlier source, lets see what the bottom 100 US Congressional districts look like:

It’s important to note that the bottom 100 districts is an arbitrary measure and many districts with similar HDI values were excluded. Nonetheless it includes the important bottom quintile with about 10 districts from the next lowest quintile. It also provides us with nearly a quarter of the 437 US congressional districts so I went with it. This map took a long time to make so please feel free to verify my findings here

In many states there are examples of urban poverty as well as rural/agrarian poverty being represented. In my region (Pacific Northwest) the eastern districts in Oregon and Washington are examples of rural poverty. NYC provides an intriguing example of urban poverty. The district NY-16 is one of the lowest HDI scores in the US, it sits nearly adjacent to NY-14, the district with the highest score in the US. The difference in the scores (8.79 vs 3.20) shows how geography can mean little when defining a region’s development.

But while NY-14 sticks out, it pales in comparison to the overwhelming poverty of the US South+Appalachia. To corroborate my view of the US South look to this wikipedia page

Of the 100 lowest HDI scores, this combined region contributes 59 districts (59%). When you count the bottom 50 this region contributes 30 (60%).

But when you count only the bottom 25 you get a staggering 20 Southern+Appalachian districts or 80% of the bottom 25. This map illustrates the disparity:


  Here’s a chart of the 100 lowest HDI scores and my Southern+Appalachian selections in red:

California

20

2.60

Kentucky   

5

2.82

West Virgini

3

3.16

New York

16

3.20

Texas

29

3.23

Missouri   

8

3.24

Oklahoma   

2

3.33

Mississippi

2

3.34

Alabama    

4

3.37

Arkansas   

1

3.39

Alabama    

7

3.46

Kentucky   

1

3.50

Tennessee  

4

3.50

Virginia   

9

3.50

Arkansas   

4

3.50

South Caroli

6

3.52

Louisiana  

5

3.52

North Caroli

1

3.53

Georgia    

2

3.55

Alabama    

3

3.61

Georgia    

12

3.66

Louisiana  

2

3.68

Tennessee  

8

3.69

California

34

3.69

Arizona

4

3.70

California

18

3.73

Texas

15

3.74

California

31

3.78

Texas

28

3.78

California

43

3.80

Illinois

4

3.80

Tennessee  

1

3.81

Pennsylvania

1

3.86

Florida    

3

3.86

Louisiana  

7

3.87

Texas

27

3.88

Texas      

1

3.89

Texas

30

3.90

Texas

13

3.92

Texas

20

3.92

Georgia    

1

3.93

Louisiana  

3

3.94

Michigan

13

3.95

Alabama    

2

3.95

Oklahoma

3

3.95

New Mexico

2

3.95

Ohio       

18

3.98

Louisiana  

4

3.99

Texas

9

3.99

Mississippi

1

3.99

Texas

19

4.01

Ohio       

6

4.04

Mississippi

4

4.04

Georgia    

8

4.06

Arkansas   

3

4.06

South Caroli

5

4.07

Alabama    

1

4.07

Tennessee  

9

4.08

Missouri   

4

4.09

North Caroli

7

4.09

Texas

18

4.10

Texas

11

4.10

California

47

4.11

California

2

4.11

Michigan

14

4.13

California

21

4.13

North Caroli

10

4.13

Tennessee  

3

4.13

North Caroli

2

4.14

Michigan

1

4.15

West Virgini

1

4.15

West Virgini

2

4.16

Texas

17

4.17

South Caroli

3

4.19

North Caroli

3

4.20

Texas      

5

4.20

Pennsylvania

12

4.22

Indiana

7

4.22

Missouri   

7

4.22

Mississippi

3

4.23

Washington

4

4.24

Virginia   

3

4.24

Oregon

2

4.26

Arizona

1

4.26

Nevada

1

4.26

Florida    

1

4.27

Kentucky   

2

4.27

Virginia   

5

4.27

Ohio

17

4.27

Oklahoma

4

4.28

New York

23

4.29

Pennsylvania

9

4.29

Indiana

8

4.30

Tennessee  

6

4.30

Texas

16

4.32

Illinois

17

4.32

Georgia    

9

4.32

Florida

23

4.32

North Caroli

8

4.34

North Caroli

11

4.34

Feel free to disagree with my assessment of the South or of Appalachia. This was excluding a large number of districts that seem to have an inconclusive regional definition. For example, Florida-23 straddles the Miami metro region and wasn’t included on the list. I only included two districts in Texas (CD1 and CD5) because the rest had mixed definitions for culture; Oklahoma-2 was the only district included. The northern district of OH-17 was excluded because only part of it is included in the ARC regional map. Missouri’s regional definition produced conflicting results but the southern districts of MO-8, MO-7, and MO-4 appear to reliably count as “southern.” The rest are 100% Southern and/or Appalachian. I wouldn’t have included Northern Virginia but none of their districts had a low HDI score so it didn’t matter.