Stories

Methodology, definitions and country groupings

03, November 2020
ESCAP Statistics Division

The ESCAP Statistical Database provides a regional perspective on development issues in Asia and the Pacific. The database, covering the 58 regional ESCAP Member States and Associate Members, contains over 370 statistical indicators disaggregated into 1500 data series on a wide range of topics organized into 16 domains: demographic trends, health, education, poverty, gender, energy and natural resources, disasters, environment, GDP, labour, trade, financing, science, technology and innovation, connectivity, governance and insecurity. 

The ESCAP Statistical Database is being compiled and maintained by ESCAP Statistics Division.

Sources of Data

Data are being compiled from United Nations agencies and programmes and other international sources of official statistics. In selecting data sources, priority is given to primary sources of data in order to preserve timeliness of the data and minimize the loss of metadata which might occur when using secondary (re-disseminated) statistical information.

ESCAP calculates regional aggregates presented in the database. For that purpose, data from all countries are downloaded and processed through ESCAP statistical information system in order to calculate regional aggregates, including aggregates for major parts of the world outside of the Asia-Pacific region.

Information on specific data source for each indicator is provided in the metadata information sheet accessible through the “metadata” button in the indicator selection menus.

Aggregation Methods

 For some indicators, some values are missing from country time series. Aggregates should therefore be treated as approximations of actual, unknown totals or averages.

Aggregates are calculated for pre-defined country groupings, typically as sum or as weighted average provided that enough observed data are available at the country level. The mechanism to test the availability of data is set as follows:

  • Social and environmental indicators: for any given year for which an aggregate is calculated, countries with observed values need to represent 2/3 of the population of the group.
  • Economic indicators: countries with observed values need to represent 2/3 of the total GDP of the group.

However, applying the above method might still result in irregular aggregate values over time as some country data could be missing for some years – although the “2/3” rule will still be observed. In those cases, some imputation methods are applied to fill in missing data points, according to the following imputation methodology:

  • If values are available for both an earlier and a later year than the year for which the aggregate is calculated, the missing value is imputed using linear interpolation.
  • A missing country value for a year preceding the earliest year for which a value is available is imputed using the value from the earliest year.
  • Similarly, a missing country value for a year following the latest year for which a value is available is imputed by using the value of the latest year.
  • For countries with only one data point for the whole period, this value is used for all missing years.

No information is used from other countries for imputing the missing values.

Imputed values are used only in calculating aggregates and in calculating derived indicators when data are missing for some years for some countries for the underlying series used in the calculation. Imputed values are not available in the database.

If imputation is used to derive aggregates, it is provided in the metadata information sheet accessible through the “metadata” button in the indicator selection menus.

Countries, areas and country groupings

Country names and groupings “Asia and the Pacific” in the ESCAP Statistical database refers to the 58 regional members and associate members of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The 58 regional members and associate members are referred to as “countries” throughout the database even though some territories that do not have such status are included. Some countries are referred to by a shortened version of their official name in tables, charts, and selection menus, as indicated in brackets in the listing below.

Asia-Pacific subregions

By geographic subregion, the countries and areas of Asia and the Pacific are:

  • East and North-East Asia (ENEA): China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea), Hong Kong, China, Japan, Macao (China), Mongolia, Republic of Korea.
  • South-East Asia (SEA): Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam.
  • South and South-West Asia (SSWA): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey.
  • North and Central Asia (NCA): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
  • Pacific: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of ) (Micronesia (F.S.)), Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Development status groupings

The ESCAP Statistical database presents 3 different ways to group countries based on development level. Historically, the ESCAP Statistical Database (and the Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific) has been using the World Bank income group based on GNI per capita. Starting 2017, the Statistical Database introduced new groups based on cluster analysis conducted by ESCAP Statistics Division.

World Bank (WB) / ESCAP Income groupings

The World Bank divides countries according to their 2019 gross national income (GNI) per capita, calculated using the World Bank Atlas method. Group classifications are: low income ($1, 035 or less), lower-middle income $1,036 - 4,045), upper-middle income ($4,046 - 12,535) and high income ($12,536 or more). The groupings are as follows:

  • WB Low income economies: Afghanistan, DPR Korea, Tajikistan.
  • WB Lower middle income economies: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Micronesia (F.S.), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam.
  • WB Upper middle income economies: American Samoa, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Iran(Islamic Rep. of), Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Russian Federation, Samoa, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu.
  • WB High-income economies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Republic of Korea, Singapore.

ESCAP Income and HDI groupings

The Human Development Index (HDI) and Income (GNI per capita) groups were determined through applying a k-means clustering algorithm to both variables. The number of clusters or groups were determined through the elbow method using both the curvatures of the between group variance and the within group variance. A number of different clustering methods were applied including k-means and quartile. The most suitable method was determined through different criteria ranging from coefficient of variation to F-test statistics.

The groupings are as follows:

  • ESCAP Low Income: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Solomon Islands, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, DPR Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Nepal, Vanuatu, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Viet Nam, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Timor-Leste.
  • ESCAP Lower Middle income: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Georgia, Kiribati, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Rep. of), Mongolia, Micronesia (F.S.), Marshall Islands, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Samoa.
  • ESCAP Upper Middle Income: American Samoa, China, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nauru, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Russian Federation, Turkey.
  • ESCAP High Income: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Guam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macao, China, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Singapore.
  • ESCAP Low HDI: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Solomon Islands, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kiribati, India, Lao PDR, Nepal, Vanuatu, Micronesia (F.S.), Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste.
  • ESCAP Lower Middle HDI: Armenia, China, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, DPR Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Viet Nam, Thailand, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Samoa.
  • ESCAP Upper Middle HDI: American Samoa, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Cook Islands, Georgia, Iran (Islamic Rep. of), Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau , Russian Federation, Turkey.
  • ESCAP High HDI: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Guam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macao, China, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Singapore.

Other Asia-Pacific groupings

Within Asia and the Pacific, the following groupings are also presented in the database:

  • Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs): Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
  • Least developed countries (LDCs): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam.
  • Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO): Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran (Islamic Republic of ), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

Regions of the world

For comparative purposes, regional aggregates are presented for Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Europe, North America, and other countries.