Sailesh Tiwari
1818 H Street, NW
Washington DC 20433

Maura Leary
1818 H Street, NW
Washington DC 20433

In Depth

Promoting a society where the productive potential of every individual is harnessed - irrespective of gender, region, ethnicity or parental socio-economic status - is critical to reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity. For children and youth, this means providing universal access to early childhood development, health and nutrition, education and basic infrastructure.

Such access will help children develop the human capital they need to engage in productive employment, the stepping stone to mobility on the economic and social ladder within, and across, generations. Visualize Inequality is a tool designed to highlight and track the progress countries and regions are making as they seek to reduce inequality of basic opportunities for children.

The World Bank has made significant progress in the measurement and analysis of inequality of opportunity since the World Development Report on Equity and Development was published in 2006. In addition to conducting substantial research on the topic, the Bank has used the Human Opportunity Index (HOI) methodology to assess coverage of, and report on, equity in access to opportunities for almost all regions, with the exception of the Middle East and North Africa.

Similar studies have also been conducted for a number of individual countries around the world, by the World Bank think-tanks and other donors. At the same time there has been a growing interest on the issue of inequality, not just from policymakers and academics, but also from a diversity of civil society organizations. Today, non-profit organizations, journalists and bloggers alike are highlighting the need for a one-stop destination that compiles and summarizes all existing knowledge generated by work on equality of opportunity within the World Bank, and presents this knowledge in a manner that is intuitive and accessible to a broad and diverse audience.

The interactive Visualize Inequality dashboard reflects historical data that will be updated frequently as new information becomes available. It is a powerful instrument to inform the ongoing debate on inequality, using the World Bank’s strength in welfare measurement and commitment to open data. This tool can help countries monitor their progress in expanding access and reducing inequality in different dimensions over time, including the coverage of basic services among children.

The dashboard does not provide a global ranking of countries, but offers the information to identify and analyze in a transparent manner where each country stands in terms of opportunity gaps and inequality indicators in general. This type of country level assessment provides the flexibility of focusing on dimensions of equity that are important, relevant and measurable for each country as opposed to all countries. The approach highlights the importance of analyzing and monitoring different aspects of poverty with an equity lens, going beyond the monetary poverty indicators that have been more prominent globally.