Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AQ’s 2012 Social Inclusion Index: Data Sources and Methodology

Data Sources:

Americas Quarterly (AQ) used four sources of data for the 15 variables included in the Social Inclusion Index.  Each of those is described below:

GDP Growth: AQ took an average of GDP growth at constant prices for ten years, 2001-2009, drawing from the IMF World Economic Outlook database: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2011/02/weodata/index.aspx

Percent GDP Spent on Social Programs: For the 11 Latin American countries, AQ used the data provided in the recent UNDP supported study and book Ciudadanía Social.  The data drew from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) database.   The U.S. numbers are from the OECD’s Social Expenditure Database (SOCX): http://www.oecd.org/document/9/0,3746,en_2649_33933_38141385_1_1_1_1,00.html

Enrollment in Secondary School; Percent Living on More than $4 per Day; Percent Access to Formal Job; Percent Access to Adequate Housing: All of these came from household data collected by the individual countries’ national offices of statistics.  Those data are consolidated and harmonized in the World Bank’s SEDLAC project http://sedlac.econo.unlp.edu.ar/eng/index.php .  The distinctions for non-minority/minority are drawn from the individual categories used in the country household surveys based on respondent self-identification.  Non-minority includes those who did not answer “indigenous” of a specific indigenous group or any other race or ethnicity-based terms (“mulato,” palenquero,” Afro-descendiente” and/or those who answered “blanco/a” or “mestizo/a” or “other.”

Political and Civil Rights: For the 11 Latin American countries and the U.S., AQ drew from the latest Freedom House annual survey, Freedom in the World 2011: http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2011

Civil Society Participation; Personal Empowerment (internal efficacy); Government Responsiveness (external efficacy):  For all 12 counties (Latin America and the United States) AQ used public opinion surveys conducted and analyzed by Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) http://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/ All the surveys were conducted in 2010 except Colombia’s  which was completed in 2011. 


AQ ranked each Latin American country by each of 15 variables (the United States for the 7 variables for which AQ had data).  Each of the variables that drew from the household surveys (enrollment in secondary school; percent living on more than $4 per day; percent access to formal job; and percent access to adequate housing) was divided into two variables: by gender and by race/ethnicity.  We calculated each of those 8 variables by first subtracting the difference between gender or non-minority/minority and then subtracting that difference from the overall rate of coverage.

Each country was then ranked relative to the others for each of the variables, with a country receiving the highest score (1-11 for Latin American countries on all 15 variables and 1-12 when the U.S. was included for just the 7 variables for which there were data for the U.S.) when it performed better.  Better in these cases was defined as higher adjusted (by gender and race/ethnicity) access to education, formal jobs, adequate housing and percent living on more than $4 per day; higher rates of average GDP growth from 2001-2009; higher percentage of GDP spent on social programs; higher scores on civil and political rights; higher rates of civil society participation; higher perceptions of personal empowerment; and higher perceptions of government responsiveness.

Those individual rankings for each variable were then totaled, giving a potential range of 15 to 165 for the Latin American countries and between 7 and 84 for the Latin American countries plus the United States.   Those scores were then converted to a 1-100 scale for the individual country scores using the following formula: new value = [(old value – old minimum)/(old maximum – old minimum)] x (new maximum – new minimum) + new minimum

Those produced the scores of (in alphabetical order):

Bolivia        39.0

Brazil        51.4

Chile        71.9

Colombia    41.8

Ecuador    43.8

Guatemala     7.5

Mexico        39.0

Nicaragua    10.3

Paraguay    21.2

Peru        43.8

United States    43.3

Uruguay    71.2

The 11 Latin American countries were ranked based on those scores:

1         Chile

2         Uruguay

3        Brazil

4        Ecuador, Peru

5        Colombia

6        Bolivia, Mexico

7        Paraguay

8        Nicaragua

9        Guatemala

For specific questions about the calculations of the scores above, please contact AQ Information at: aqinfo@as-coa.org

Like what you're reading?

Sign up for Americas Quarterly's free weekly newsletter and stay up-to-date on politics, business and culture in the Americas.