About this Course
The number of composite indices that are constructed and used internationally is growing very fast; but whilst the complexity of quantitative techniques has increased dramatically, the education and training in this area has been dragging and lagging behind. As a consequence, these simple numbers, expected to synthesize quite complex issues, are often presented to the public and used in the political debate without proper emphasis on their intrinsic limitations and correct interpretations. In this course on global statistics, offered by the University of Geneva jointly with the ETH Zürich KOF, you will learn the general approach of constructing composite indices and some of resulting problems. We will discuss the technical properties, the internal structure (like aggregation, weighting, stability of time series), the primary data used and the variable selection methods. These concepts will be illustrated using a sample of the most popular composite indices. We will try to address not only statistical questions but also focus on the distinction between policy-, media- and paradigm-driven indicators.
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Intermediate Level

Intermediate Level

Clock

Approx. 17 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks, 3 hours per week (6 hours for week 2 only if no background on statistics)
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Intermediate Level

Intermediate Level

Clock

Approx. 17 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks, 3 hours per week (6 hours for week 2 only if no background on statistics)
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Welcome module

Welcome to the first module of this course. In this welcome module, you will be introduced with the Professors that will take part in this course on composites indices. We explain the rationale for composite indices (CIs) and show how they can be of interest. This course is open to NGO members, politicians, journalists, students and all persons interested in understanding, creating and/or interpreting CIs. By the end of this first module, you will have an overview of the content of the course week by week. ...
Reading
2 videos (Total 10 min), 4 readings
Video2 videos
1.1.1 Welcome - introduction to the objectives and content of the course6m
Reading4 readings
Slides for Lesson 1 introduction to objectives and content of the course10m
Syllabus10m
List of Acronyms10m
List of References10m
Clock
3 hours to complete

Some introductory issues

This module contains four lessons. The first lesson is an introduction to CIs. It defines what a CI is, introduces their mathematical notation and reviews some core historical aspects of their development, the need and use of CIs. The second lesson focuses on the demand for CIs while the third lesson develops a qualitative framework for the construction of CIs. More specifically, the intrinsic quality of CIs is discussed by reviewing their pros and cons. Finally, the last lesson of this introductory module sketches the steps involved in the construction of a CI. Learning outcomes: by the end of this module you will have a clear idea what a CI is (definition, ingredients, history, objective), know why it is needed and where it is used (needs and demand), be familiar with the quality requirements and have a first idea steps involved in the construction of a CI. ...
Reading
10 videos (Total 97 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
2.1.2 Need, use, pros and cons of composite indices8m
2.2.2 Statistical offices and the public demand, part I15m
2.2.3 Statistical offices and the public demand, part II8m
2.2.4 The demand for social indicators1m
2.2.5 The political demand, part I10m
2.2.6 The political demand, part II9m
2.3.1 Good practices for composite indices, part I12m
2.3.2 Good practices for composite indices, part II10m
2.4.1 Constructing composite indices: an overview14m
Reading4 readings
Slides for lesson 1 introduction, definition and first examples10m
Slides for Lesson 2 the demand for composite indices10m
Slides for Lesson 3 towards a quality framework10m
Slides for Lesson 4 the steps of constructing a composite index10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quizz Module 220m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

The steps of constructing a composite index

This module is organized along four lessons. The objective of this module is to familiarize you with the key steps to undertake when constructing a CI. The first lesson will develop a theoretical framework to support CIs’ construction. Notably, it will cover topics such as variables selection and data issues. The second lesson will introduce a unifying approach to construct CI by discussing aspects related to transformation functions and the elasticity of substitution. The entire third lesson will be devoted to an essential aspect in the construction of a CI: the choice of weights. Finally, the module will conclude by addressing questions arising after the construction of a CI. For instance, lesson four will discuss how to assess the robustness of the resulting CI. By the end of this module you will be familiar with all the most important technical (or say statistical) steps involved in constructing CIs. ...
Reading
10 videos (Total 93 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
3.1.2 Developing an economic/statistical framework, part II12m
3.1.3 Selecting variables and data issues9m
3.2.1 A unifying framework for composite indices4m
3.2.2 The transformation functions10m
3.2.3 The elasticity of substitution6m
3.3.1 Choosing the weights, part I9m
3.3.2 Choosing the weights, part II17m
3.3.3 Choosing the weights, part III6m
3.4.1 Robustness of results7m
Reading4 readings
Slides for Lesson 1 developing an economic/statistical framework10m
Slides for Lesson 2 A unifying approach to construct composite indices10m
Slides for Lesson 3 Choosing the weights10m
Slides for Lesson 4 After the construction10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quizz Module 320m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Globalization and Youth labour market indices (ETH Zurich/KOF)

In this module, you will discover two popular indices developed by ETH Zurich: the Young Labour Market Index and the KOF Globalization index. In the first lesson of this week, you will learn more about the Youth Labour Market Index (YLMI). The KOF YLMI captures various aspects of the youth labour market situation of countries across the world. You will learn which indicators are included in the KOF YLMI and how these are aggregated into a single index. Furthermore, you will get to know an online tool that invites you to analyse the youth labour market situation yourself. In the second lesson of this module, you will learn about the KOF Globalization Index which is a widely used composite indicator that measures the degree of globalization for every country in the world since 1970. It distinguishes between three dimensions of globalization: Economic, social and political globalization. In the following module, you will learn why it is important to measure globalization and what the different stages in constructing the KOF Globalization Index are. A critical discussion of the Index sums up the module. ...
Reading
10 videos (Total 66 min), 8 readings, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
4.1.2 Introduction to the index and YLMI tool4m
4.1.3 Index components7m
4.1.4 Index aggregation and results7m
4.1.5 User perspective3m
4.2.1 Motivation of the KOF Globalization index4m
4.2.2 Selection of variables10m
4.2.3 Normalization, weighting and aggregation6m
4.2.4 Results7m
4.2.5 User perspective10m
Reading8 readings
Slides for Lesson 1 Youth Labour Market Index10m
KOF Study n°51 (optional)10m
KOF Study n°67 (optional)10m
KOF Study n°83 (optional)10m
Slides for Lesson 2 KOF Globalization Index10m
IMF 2007 Reaping the benefits of financial globalization (optional)10m
Kose et al., IMF 2009 (optional)10m
Schularick, JFE 2006 (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quizz Module 420m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Export Potential Assessment (ITC)

This module focuses on trade indices developed by the International Trade Centre, the Export Potential Index (EDI) and the Product Diversification index (PDI). Frictions often create a gap between what a country could export and what it does export to markets around the world. Trade advisers could better address these frictions and help firms realize greater exports if they knew exactly which products and markets offer best chances. During this week, you will learn about the Export Potential Assessment (EPI and PDI), which indicates products, sectors and markets for trade development activities for over 200 countries and 4,000 products. Based upon an assessment of the exporting country’s supply capacity, the target market’s demand and tariff conditions as well as the bilateral links between the exporting country and the target market, it provides a ranking of untapped opportunities. ...
Reading
12 videos (Total 65 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
5.1.2 Global overview of the export potential assessment3m
5.1.3 Motivation and data treatment8m
5.1.4 Economic framework4m
5.1.5 First dimension: the supply side7m
5.1.6 Second dimension: the demand side5m
5.1.7 Third dimension: the bilateral trade relations, and results4m
5.1.8 Aggregation and final indicator construction5m
5.2.1 Overview of PDI, motivation and data treatment5m
5.2.2 The product space methodology6m
5.2.3 Dimensions of the index: supply and demand sides, and results7m
5.2.4 User perspective2m
Reading3 readings
Slides for Lesson 1 Export Potential Index10m
Export Potential Assessment Methodology (optional)10m
Slides for Lesson 2 Product Diversification Index10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quizz Module 520m

5

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

Liner shipping connectivity indices (UNCTAD) and Human development index (UNDP)

During this week you will be exploring two indices. The first index, the Liner Shipping (Bilateral) Connectivity Index (LSCI/LSBCI) computed each year by UNCTAD since 2004. It provides an overall indicator of a country maritime connectivity related to liner shipping. Throughout this lesson, we give some insights on why the LSCI and LSBCI were developed. We also cover the methodology to build both indices. We then discuss some stylized facts. The second index presented this week is the Human Development Index (HDI) developed by UNDP. During this lesson, you will be slightly introduced with the history of the HDI. We explain the steps of constructing the HDI, i.e. choosing the three dimensions (health, education and living conditions) composing the HDI and their respective indicators, normalizing the indicators and aggregating the indicators and dimensional sub-indices using different methods. Then, we use a practical example to calculate the HDI for one country. At the end, we discuss some limitations of the HDI and give some elements for future improvement. ...
Reading
18 videos (Total 132 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video18 videos
6.1.2 Introduction of the UNCTAD institution3m
6.1.3 Motivation and plan4m
6.1.4 LSCI: history and data7m
6.1.5 LSCI: component and computation7m
6.1.6 LSCI: stylized facts5m
6.1.7 LSBCI: motivation and data4m
6.1.8 LSBCI: components and computation5m
6.1.9 LSBCI: stylized facts10m
6.1.10 Conclusion remarks5m
6.1.11 User perspective6m
6.2.1 Introduction and motivation for the Human Development index9m
6.2.2 Indicators: selection and data issues12m
6.2.3 Aggregation, methods and reasoning11m
6.2.4 Interview of Flavio Comim: A response to the common criticisms of the HDI9m
6.2.6 Interview of Selim Jahan, part I: History of the Human Development index, and its major strengths and weaknesses10m
6.2.7 Interview of Selim Jahan, part II: Other indices in the Human Development Report (HDR), and future of the HDR13m
Conclusion2m
Reading7 readings
Slides for Lesson 1 Liner Shipping Connectivity Index10m
Liner Shipping connectivity as determinant of trade (Fugazza and Hoffmann) (optional)10m
Bilateral Liner shipping connectivity since 2006 (Fugazza and Hoffmann) (optional)10m
UNCTAD transport Newsletter 2007 (optional)10m
UNCTAD transport Newsletter 2005 (optional)10m
Slides for Lesson 2 Human Development Index10m
Human Development Report (technical notes) (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quizz Module 630m

About University of Geneva

Founded in 1559, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is one of Europe's leading universities. Devoted to research, education and dialogue, the UNIGE shares the international calling of its host city, Geneva, a centre of international and multicultural activities with a venerable cosmopolitan tradition....

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