Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Per Crapita

I often read articles that talk about Eesti and contain a lot of stats that show Eesti either at the top of some list or at the bottom depending on what's being measured. Most of these articles refer to per capita statistics which can be useful in certain situations but I think can be very misleading, especially for a tiny country like Estonia.

For instance I recently read the following about Eesti, all based on per capita stats:
- Has the most Hummers in the world.
- Has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV
- The 7th largest 'ecological footprints' in the world
- One of the highest drug related death rates

And on and on. Now, these are serious issues that need to be addressed but I don't think things are as bad as these sensational headlines make it out to be. Per capita stats aren't always bad but articles that use them rarely state that countries with small populations like Estonia tend to have skewed statistics because all it takes is one train crash or fatal alcohol poisoning at a party to vault a small nation to the top of a list. So next time you read about how Eesti is at the bottom (or top) of some list take it with a grain of salt.

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