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Biweekly digest from Friday 3 December 2021
To understand how the pandemic is evolving, it’s crucial to know how death rates from COVID differ by vaccination status. The death rate is a key metric that can accurately show us how effective vaccines are against severe forms of the disease.
In this article we explain why it is essential to look at death rates by vaccination status rather than the absolute number of deaths among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
We also visualize this mortality data for the United States, England, and Chile.
Ideally we would produce a global dataset that compiles this data for countries around the world, but we do not have the capacity to do this in our team. As a minimum, we list country-specific sources where you can find similar data for other countries, and we describe how an ideal dataset would be formatted.
→ Explore our global vaccination dataset, alongside cases, deaths, hospitalizations, testing, and other metrics by country in our COVID Data Explorer.
Our recent publications
When French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in 1789 in pursuit of liberty, equality, and fraternity (and weapons), they could not have imagined how far democratic political rights would have spread a mere 200 years later.
In the 19th century, there were few countries one could call democracies. Today, the majority are.
But the mere number of countries does not tell us how many people enjoy democratic rights. When Tunisia became democratic in 2012, its population of 11 million gained the political rights that came with it. When India democratized in the 1950s, this same transition affected almost 400 million people.
In this article we explain how political regimes are classified, how many people live under different regimes, and how this has changed over time. While the number of people with democratic political rights has increased dramatically, these rights are still far from universal — and far from inevitable.
Two centuries ago the majority of the world population was extremely poor — even those living in today’s richest countries. Back then it was widely believed that widespread poverty was inevitable.
But this turned out to be wrong. Economic growth is possible and poverty can decline. The world has made immense progress against extreme poverty.
Yet even after two centuries of progress, extreme poverty is still the reality for every tenth person in the world. This means nearly 800 million people.
In this article we explain that the poorest people today live in countries which have achieved no economic growth. This stagnation of the world’s poorest economies is one of the largest problems of our time. Unless this changes millions of people will continue to live in extreme poverty.
The two most widely-cited estimates say that air pollution causes around 7 million deaths every year. But the published estimates span a wide range.
More recent studies tend to find a higher death toll than earlier studies. This is not because air pollution — at a global level — is worsening, but because the more recent scientific evidence suggests that the health impacts of exposure to pollution are larger than previously thought.
In this Data Review we present the estimates of the global death toll from air pollution published in major recent studies, and provide the context and explanation that makes these estimates understandable.
We published a new data explorer on the impacts of Natural Disasters. It allows you to explore death rates, numbers of people affected, and economic damage from natural disasters across the world and over time.
We will update these metrics annually.
Explore more of our work
In the past people had many more children than today. The number fluctuated over time and there were some differences between countries, but for much of our history the average woman had at least five children, and often more. For instance, 200 years ago women in the US averaged 6.6 children.
As recently as 1965, the average woman in the world still had more than 5 children. But since then we have seen an unprecedented change — the number has halved. Globally, the average per woman is now below 2.5 children.
In this short article from September 2019 we describe how fertility rates are measured, how and why they’ve declined over time, and what this means for the population.
The mission of Our World in Data is to make data and research on the world’s largest problems understandable and accessible for everyone.