The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publishes statistics from Agriculture to Youth Unemployment for many countries in the world. One indicator that got my attention today while watching Fareed Zakarias’ Global Public Square show on CNN is Poverty, Infant Mortality rate, and implications of Child Poverty on long-term Income distribution. Evan Esar, American Humorist (1899-1995), wrote that Statistics is the only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions. In the case of poverty, the context in which Fareed used the figures is important i.e. whether we can do anything about the Poverty in the United States, and whether a smart kid who is poor can succeed and excel in this world? I know there are lots of stories of poor working hard to succeed but I know those are far and few in between when you look at Poverty objectively.
For me personally, it led me to ask questions like, since resources are never unlimited, where would I make the first $1 investment – Food or education? Why is US #31 on the chart below? And why is US at the bottom 4 along with Chile, Israel, and Mexico? What is the trend, and is it getting better? I think framing right questions within the context helps draw on facts and real-life experience. There is lot of useful data out on the internet to help give businesses and individuals a great start to develop a problem statement, develop a story behind a story, present options, and make a judgment call. And no recommendation (judgment call) is useful until it is acted on through long-term focus on execution of Programs, and keeping the story alive through active campaigns. Statistics are reversible.