Below are given the definition of the different variables included in the database. 

Not all variables are included as some are rather self evident and a definition would be of little value.

Total Population (Thousands)

This is the total number of persons (millions) legally resident in the country in the year. It does not distinguish between natives and migrants who are legally resident. It does not include people living in the country illegally and probably not included in the census. As such there can be some understatement of the population and labour force in countries that are targeted by illegal migration.

Total Urban Population (Thousands)

This is the number of persons in thousands reported as living in an ‘urban’ area.  Typically an urban area is a concentration of 20,000 persons and above.  However, the definition is not applied consistently across countries.

Total Rural Population (Thousands)

This is the residual of total population less the defined urban population.  Be aware that while typically rural populations are engaged in agricultural (or Primary) economic activity it is not exclusively so.  For example, a rural area will have some shop keepers, engineers repairing farm equipment, etc.

Percentage of Population that is Urban

This is the proportion of the total population that is designated to be living in an urban area.

 Natural Change (000s people)

This is change in the total population (positive or negative) as a result of births less deaths in the year.  It specifically excludes change because of migration (inward or outward)

Net Migration/error (000s)

This is the unaccounted-for change in the total population (and associated age groups) that cannot be explained by ageing (people moving up 1 year in age) less deaths plus births. typically, it is a function of migration, but as for all social statistics there is also an element of error in reported statistics which will be reflected here. 

Birth Rate per Thousand Females 15-49

This is the number of births per thousand females in the population aged between 15 and 49 years. This is published by age of the female as the rate (i.e. propensity to have a child) does vary a lot by age within a country.  As a rule, this variable declines in value over time as a function of increased education and increased affluence. However, in older and more affluent economies it is now showing some increase as the rates are now quite low.  Immigration also is impacting the rate for some countries as immigrants tend to be younger and likely to have more children.

Number of Women of Child Bearing Age (000s)

This is the number of women (in 000s) aged between 15 and 49 years. While there are instances of women having children outside this age range it is the exception rather than normative behaviour. This figure multiplied by the ‘Birth Rate’ gives estimated total births for the year. The user should note the birth rate is expressed as births per thousand. This figure is forecast with some reliability as the women that fall into this age range for the next 15 years are already alive today.  The only uncertainty is the number of such women in 16 to 20 years’ time as that is the function of the births in the next 5 years.

Total Births per annum (000s)

This is the number of live births in the year.  For forecast years, it is estimated by multiplying the estimated number of women of child bearing age (15 to 49 years) by the projected birth rate (number of births per thousand women aged 15 to 49).  This is done by 5-year age groups of women, 

Percent of births to Mothers over 34 years

There is a global trend to women having children at an older age and this is a useful measure of this social change.  More traditional societies tend to get married/form a partnership at a younger age and have children early in that relationship.   As the society moves away from its traditional norms so marriage/partnerships take place at an older age and there is often a delay in having the first child as well.

 Household Size in Persons

This is the number of persons living together as a single economic unit. They are typically living in a distinct dwelling. The most common scenario is two adults and one or two children.  While there are instances in all societies of 3 generation families living together this is declining with affluence and improved health in older age. The long term trend of this variable is to decline.  That is the average household is moving to 3 or less persons.

Total Households (Thousands)

This is the number of separate economic units living as a household. It is the total population divided by average number of persons per household.

Total Households -  persons

This is the number of individuals living in the single household economic unit 

Working Age

Persons aged 15 to 64 years are historically the core working age population.  However, in many countries, with increased life expectancy (and associated better health) as well as education a significant proportion of persons aged 65 to 70 years are still in full time employment, and a growing proportion of persons aged 70 to 74 years.  As such to allow comparability across countries working age is now defined as 15 to 74 years. As the propensity of persons in this age range to be employed varies between males and females it is necessary to separate the two genders when determining the total employed population. The forecast values of this variable are quire reliable as the people in that age group in 15 years’ time are already alive today. 

Propensity to be employed

This is the probability (percent) of a person aged 15 to 74 being in full time employment (greater than 20 hours per week). This variable tends to be relatively stable over time - with a slight long term decline because of increasing advanced education opportunities, as this tends to delay entry into the labour force. This variable can, however, have short-term fluctuations off the trend line in times of economic decline (unemployment) or growth.  Historical data indicates that the rate returns to the trend line within a 2-3 years’ period probably reflecting an adjustment in real wages as well as recovery of the labour market.  

Total Persons aged 15 to 74 years who are employed (thousands)

This is persons (separately for males and females) aged 15 to 74 being in full time employment (greater than 20 hours per week). It is calculated by multiplying the number of males/females aged 15 to 74 years by their propensity to be employed.

Employed per Household (Persons)

This is the average number of persons in the household who are in full time employment. It is important to watch this figure as it explains why household incomes might not grow at the same rate as wages (and GDP). For example, if the number of employed per household is declining the average household income will grow at a slower rate than average wages (and or GDP per worker). The global trend is for this variable to be declining in value as households get smaller in size (less extended family) and older (lower propensity to be employed).

Employed as Percentage of the Total Population

This is the labour force of the country as a proportion of the total population. It is a useful measure as it shows the proportion of the population that is contributing to the economy. Generally, the higher the better.  However, if there is an excess number of persons seeking work relative to employment opportunities it can lower wages.  So while having a high percentage of the population employed is generally good, it will not always lead to a proportional increase in the level of household affluence.

Dependents per Employed Person

This is the number of persons (or part thereof) who are supported by each worker - in addition to the worker. It is calculated as follows: (total population - total employed)/total employed. The lower this figure is the better as it means that the earned wage to be distributed across fewer persons and effectively there is then more for each.  In countries where the dependency rate is high it does generally mean that the one wage earner is supporting 3 to 4 persons and this makes it difficult to afford education or health care to a standard that will lift them to a better life style. It is a function of birth rates (which creates dependents) and availability of employment for those of working age.  As birth rates are generally declining and employment is generally increasing this means the long-term trend for this variable is downward which is good – however, the rate of decline is very slow.

Education Index

This is an index created by Global Demographics Ltd to reflect the relative level of the education of employed persons in a country.  It is not a perfect index as there are differences in definitions between countries as to what is primary, secondary and tertiary level education.  The index attempts to get around these definitional issues by looking at the number of years in school.  The index is a log function in that there is an increasing ‘value’ placed on the more years spent in education.  So two years in tertiary adds more to the total index value than 2 years in secondary.  The index has a positive (but weak) relationship to productivity per worker, but historically has been a good leading indicator of the trend in Fixed Capital Investment per worker.


NOTE: Financial Data is Expressed in Real Values.

The following variables all relate to financial data.  All financial data (historic and forecast) is expressed in real current year terms.  That is to say, the effect of inflation (which is difficult to forecast) has been excluded and the user sees the real changes in value that are likely to (or have) take place.

Where the value is in US$ it is derived by using the real value in Local Currency Unit (LCU) and the US$ exchange rate of the current quarter has been applied.

Fixed Capital Investment (FCI) per annum Bn

This is the total amount spent in a year on fixed capital investment. That is, road, railways, buildings, plant and equipment etc. As for all financial data in this database it is expressed in real values (last year) and converted to US$ using the current exchange rate.

 Fixed Capital Investment per annum per worker

This is the amount spent in the year on fixed capital investment divided by number of employed persons.  It should be appreciated that this variable tends to increase because of an increased education standard of the labour force.  Basically, the more skilled the labour force the more sophisticated the equipment that they can use and hence higher productivity is achieved. However, there is a degree of lag between improving education and Fixed Capital Investment increasing.  Also, there is a danger of too much Fixed Capital Investment per worker – in which case marginal productivity per worker does not increase as rapidly as before. 

Accumulated Fixed Capital Investment per worker

This is the sum of the depreciated fixed capital investment of the previous 10 years divided by the number of workers.  The advantage of this measure is that it represents the true total assets ‘behind’ each worker and reduces the impact on fluctuations in total Fixed Capital Investment per annum. There is a demonstrated positive relationship between changes in this variable and productivity per worker.  It tends to be quite strong when overall investment per worker is relatively low (by global norms) and declines in impact (decreasing marginal returns) as the level of investment increases.  This can be particularly evident if investment increases faster than the worker skill level. 

Total Real GDP per employed person

This is the estimated output of the average individual worker in the economy.  It is a direct (albeit simple) measure of productivity and the trend in it is aligned to the trend in accumulated fixed capital investment per worker and the trend in education standard of the worker. The absolute level (as compared to the trend) of productivity per worker varies between countries because of several factors including labour laws and economic stimuli.  These can change suddenly and this can cause disruption in the absolute level of productivity per worker.

Total Real Gross Domestic Product (in Billions)

This is the estimated total output of the economy.  It includes all Government expenditure, exports less imports, Fixed Capital Investment, and Private Consumption Expenditure.  Clearly it reflects the total net output of the workforce who produce the exports, the Fixed Capital products and finance household expenditure and (through taxes) Government expenditure.

Return per unit (US$ or Local Currency) of wage

This is an often-overlooked variable in economics but an important one.  Basically, it is the extent to which some of the worker’s output is retained by the providers of capital (employer – which includes the Government in this case).  A ratio 125% for example means that for every One Dollar of wage the employer (economy) gets $1.25 back.  Or alternatively for every $1.25 of production only $1.00 gets to the worker.  If it is greater than 1 then the society is benefiting from the worker.  If it is less than 1 (which does happen) then the worker is costing the society more than what they produce which is clearly not a long-term scenario but often reflects very restrictive labour laws and failing economies.  The range in this variable across countries is considerable.  From 0.8 to 1.8. Based on historical data across 78 countries this variable decreases (i.e. the worker share of productivity goes up and the value approaches 1) the better educated the workforce (better able to negotiate a greater share of the output) and the tighter the supply of workers (again better able to negotiate a greater share of the productivity).  A poorly educated labour supply which is increasing rapidly in number has a weak negotiating position and their share decreases – so the ratio increases upwards from 1.  Also in centrally controlled economies the ratio is higher.  However, rarely does it move by more than 0.3 percentage points in a decade.  Such a change does however, impact on private (household) income and expenditure a lot.

Average Wage per worker (per annum) Real values

This is the average wage paid to the employed labour force given the productivity per worker and the share of productivity that is given back to the worker in the form of wages. It is a function of GDP per worker and the ratio of GDP per worker to wage per worker.

Real Average Household Income (per annum) Real values

This is the gross pretax income of the average household in the country expressed in US$ (or local currency unit) per annum (real values).  It is derived from the following two variables – the number of employed person per household multiplied by the average wage per worker.  As such the forecasts of household income consider the changing demographics of the population (proportion that is both employable and prepared to work) and the changing relationship between productivity and the share that goes to the worker.  Do appreciate that there is a difference between average household income and median household income.  The greater the difference the greater the inequality of income distribution.

Expenditure per Household per annum

This is the total expenditure of the average household per annum. As such it includes all outgoings from the household income except taxes and savings.  Historically it should be close to (+ or – 5%) total Private Consumption Expenditure (PCE) divided by the number of households. 

Total Real Private Consumption Expenditure per annum (US$ Bn)

This is the total expenditure of all households in the economy (and also charities which is about 5%)  The historical value is derived from returns from retailers and wholesalers and picks up all expenditure by households irrespective of whether or not the associated income has been reported for survey or tax purposes.  As such it provides a useful anchor point to test estimated household incomes against.  Total Private Consumption divided by total households gives a reliable measure of the average household’s expenditure (and, by implication, after allowing for tax and savings rates – income). For forecasting purposes this process is reversed and multiplying average household expenditure by the number of households gives a good estimate of the Private Consumption Expenditure component of GDP. 

Total Real Private Consumption Expenditure as percent of GDP

This is the total real Private Consumption Expenditure (PCE) divided by total real Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  It is a useful indicator of the proportion of the economy that is consumer driven.  This can vary significantly across countries from a low 34% to a high of 91% and reflects a the extent to which the economy is being driven by fixed capital investment and or natural resource exports with little shared with the workforce or by domestic production and consumption with the workers getting a high share of production value in salaries