Social indicators

Social indicators are statistical data on the various aspects of the life of a people that together portray the social state of the nation and enable it to know its level of social development.

Social indicators make up a system and, to make sense of them, they need to be observed in relation to each other as elements of the same set.

From these social indicators, income can be assessed per capita, illiteracy (educational level), eating conditions and medical and health conditions of a region or country.

Chart illustration for social indicators

Through these indicators, one can also indicate the countries as: rich (developed), under development (emerging economy) or poor (underdeveloped). For this to happen, international organizations analyze countries according to:

• Life expectancy (average years of life of a person in a given country).
• Mortality rate (corresponds to the number of people who died during the year).
• Infant mortality rate (corresponds to the number of children who die before their first birthday).
• Illiteracy rate (corresponds to the percentage of people who cannot read or write).
• Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, based on the purchasing power parity of the inhabitants.
• Health (regarding the quality of health of the population).
• Food (refers to the minimum diet a person needs, about 2,500 calories, and whether that diet is balanced).
• Medical and sanitary conditions (access to sewage, treated water, paving, among others).
• Quality of life and access to consumption (correspond to the number of cars, computers, televisions, mobile phones, internet access, etc.).

HDI (Human Development Index)

O HDI It was created by the United Nations (UN) with the aim of measuring the economic degree and especially how people are living in countries around the world.

The HDI evaluates countries on a scale from 0 to 1. Index 1 has not been reached by any country in the world, and it will hardly be, as this index would mean that a given country has a practically perfect reality, with high per capita income, high expectations. 90-year life span and so on.

Equally important to note is that there is no country in the world with an index of 0, because if this happened it would be the same as presenting, for example, 100% illiteracy rates and all other indicators at catastrophic levels. Top 10 countries in the category "very high human development " in the table showing the 2018 Global HDI ranking are:

Global HDI Ranking






















Hong Kong











According to this report, Brazil is in the "high human development ", occupying the position 79º in the HDI Global ranking, with grade 0,759.

Map illustrating the HDI Global view

What kind of information can the indicators give about Brazil?

Comparing the north, northeast, southeast, south and midwest is very important so that we can better know a region or the country. When comparing the social indicators in the northeast with those in the southeast (for example, the number of people who have sewage connected to the mains, treated water and garbage collection), it is evident that in the northeast, families live in poorer living conditions. than in the southeast.

At the same time, these indicators make it possible for us to be able to more carefully evaluate the actions of governments with regard to managing people's lives. One government has managed to improve education rates in several regions, another may have encouraged the creation of new industries - the numbers show what was actually accomplished.

Who is responsible for producing the information that makes up the social indicator system?

In the vast majority of countries, they are the official organs of government. In Brazil, the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) is the official body responsible for producing the statistics that make up the system of social indicators. The main sources of data are the Institute's own surveys, such as census surveys (demographic census and population count) and household sampling (National Household Sample Survey, PNAD).