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Not very good with numbers, The Guardian

‘Pregnancy is not a disease’: why do so many women die giving birth in one of Africa’s richest countries?
More than 80,000 Nigerian women

Nigeria? Rich?

Despite having the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria also loses more women to death in childbirth than most other countries in the world. In 2020, about 82,000 Nigerian women died due to pregnancy-related complications, a slight improvement on the previous year, but an increase on previous decades.

Err, yes. And they’re giving that death in childbirth as a gross number too.

It really is important to distinguish between gross numbers and rates. Sure, Nigeria has a large economy. Also a high number of deaths in childbirth.

It’s also got 220 million people. Meaning that the GDP per caita – the rate – is pretty low, around $2k a year. And the childbirth death rate well, we’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

But nothing good will come of mixing and matching gross and rate, as they’re doing. They almost certainly don’t realise what they’re doing either.

10 thoughts on “Not very good with numbers, The Guardian”

  1. Just as well the hacks aren’t good with numbers or they’d be wracked with guilt over what they did with the 50p they got for Autotrader! Wouldn’t they?

    Oh, OK…

  2. Tim, you’re guilty of arithmetism. The correct phrasing is that the Guardian is differently numerate. (Along with being differently realist.)

  3. This is one of those double-think problems Grauniadist’s have with reality.
    The feminists say ‘pregnancy is not a disease’ and complain about the medicalisation of child birth.
    But reality intrudes, with dreadful mortality rates for mother and baby in non-medical childbirth. It’s always been so, until the medics came along (with clean hands!).

    So it’s something to complain about, until you, or your spouse is the one choosing a maternity ward or an exsanguination.

    Think of it as evolution in action.

  4. “My cousin, an incredibly wealthy general, is currently in labour and needs your funds so that his waters can break…”

  5. Not sure which is worse – they really are this bad at numbers or they put something so stupid in writing?

  6. @Esteban

    they really are this bad at numbers or they put something so stupid in writing?

    It’s worse, they are torturing numbers to fit an agenda. Oh, where is Amnesty International when you need them?

  7. Judging from the West Africans around here I suspect that obesity and diabetes might have something to do with complications in Nigeria.

  8. Quick bit of scribbling: UK has 17 per 100,000 maternal deaths, Nigeria has 37 per 100,000. Twice as many in a country 20 times poorer is good going I think. We should aim to be as good, on like for like we should be down to 1.7.

    Feel free to correct my numbers, but finger-in-the-air magnitudes look about right.

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