From Cost of Living to Education: NationMaster’s Mission to Bring Statistical Literacy to a Broader Audience Around the Globe

Jon McDonald • March 8, 2017

In a Nutshell: Since its creation in 2003, NationMaster has been educating a global audience through statistical comparisons and engaging visuals on country-specific data such as cost of living, economy, and energy. In fact, there is a good chance you have seen statistics from NationMaster without even knowing it. That is because news outlets, including the BBC, CNN, and The Guardian, have used NationMaster for the last decade to provide context in their stories. But everyone from entrepreneurs eyeing expansion to future homeowners can use the website to make more informed decisions based on comprehensive statistics from 305 countries. NationMaster lets users explore the world according to their unique interests and needs, making the data more personal and meaningful.

As people throughout the world wake up each day, they often check the news for the latest updates on politics, the economy, and society. Most people have a favorite medium — whether it’s a printed paper, email newsletter, or website — and many have strong opinions about their news source. Regardless of what outlet they trust, chances are they have seen data from NationMaster in the course of their news consumption.

The site, run by self-described “passionate stat geeks,” filters a massive database of statistics, allowing users to compare countries side-by-side and puts those data points into context in the form of maps and graphics. The site is a resource reporters trust for information to bring stories to life and provide readers with dynamic experiences.

NationMaster users have access to customized graphs, charts, and maps on almost any subject — from cost of living to economic health. That information can be used in countless ways, from helping the Huffington Post assess the state of Cuba’s economy without Fidel Castro to allowing a Kenyan newspaper to compare its cost of living to that of Germany.

That unique value makes NationMaster a go-to resource for news publications. But the site is also dedicated to educating audiences around the world on highly specific topics. NationMaster is a resource for anyone who wants quantitative data to help them make smarter decisions and grow their contextual understanding of the world.

Founded to Highlight the Importance of Interpreting Stats

In 2002, NationMaster founder Luke Metcalfe realized — as much as he loved combing through the massive CIA World Factbook — the data collection experience came up lacking. He wanted more than just the numbers — he wanted context.

NationMaster Founder Luke Metcalfe wanted to provide statistical education to the world.

Luke, an Australian-based entrepreneur with a degree in computer technology, loved statistics and wanted a way to visualize why data — about everything from geopolitics to economics to culture — mattered on a global scale.

Beyond improving the stories data could tell, Luke felt the world needed a service that would contribute to statistical literacy everywhere. That meant building an accessible, easy-to-use site that would appeal to news agencies and college students alike. NationMaster began with the belief that everyone should be statistically literate. The founding team felt if statistics are left to someone else to interpret, a person’s worldview — and future — could be at risk.

For Luke, the value of information comes from what it means to the average user. Providing an entrepreneur with data on the best country to open a business in or giving a clear picture of what we’re breathing in the world’s most polluted cities are meaningful uses of that data.

A Research Tool For Economic and Cost-of-Living Data

NationMaster provides information that is used to make important decisions — like moving a family. Users can explore global conditions and compare country-by-country stats to see the big picture, especially about an economy or cost of living. Financial statistics can be a crucial factor in deciding whether a move will be cost-effective.

Cost of living in another country can be a major factor in the decision to relocate a business or family.

But Luke wanted to provide even more accurate data to users, so he helped build NationMaster’s sister site Microburbs to accomplish that. Currently only available in Australia, Microburbs can filter data down to areas as small as 200 to 800 people. That precise picture of small areas puts it at the forefront of local research.

Having that data means users can focus on the quantifiable. Instead of Australian homebuyers relying on a real estate agent to tell them about a neighborhood, they can make side-by-side comparisons with truly objective data. That real information can lead to more informed decisions.

Whether you’re taking a vacation, thinking about relocating, or possibly moving a business to another country, NationMaster can provide all of the information you need — or just satisfy your curiosity.

Providing Comprehensive Reporting on 305 Countries

The NationMaster team understands globalization and the digital age mean people are making decisions on larger scales. That is why data sets on the website are so comprehensive. People are considering whether to pursue business relationships or property ownership internationally rather than at home.

NationMaster allows users to visualize data with interactive maps in a wide range of categories.

Some are wondering about the employment rates in other countries because they’re hiring contractors there. Others need to know how much internet access they’ll have in Botswana or Cambodia before traveling for work or vacation.

That’s why NationMaster covers 305 countries through its vast network of sources. By doing so, the site provides a wealth of data on topics from unemployment to education quality to obesity in a vast amount of countries.

Helping People Expand Worldviews Through Information

To get the best possible picture of the world, NationMaster starts by bringing together data from individual countries and unique cultures. The insights gleaned from that information often ends up in a wide variety of news reports, adding statistical context to stories.

Likewise, for individuals considering making a move, success can depend on how thoroughly they research their destination. They need to know what challenges will meet them in any new venture or adventure.

Since its creation, NationMaster has understood global perspectives don’t have to be vague or impersonal — and neither does data. Combining information from reputable sources and producing visuals to tell stories about diverse societies, NationMaster gives the world a clear picture to help shape our views. And its mission of statistical education through context is being accomplished — one informed user at a time.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald is a contributing editor at Digital Brands with over 15 years of experience editing, writing, and designing at numerous publications. His passions include keeping people informed about emerging trends and finding the latest companies making an impact on the financial industry. Away from the office, Jon enjoys grilling, watching sports, and spending time with his wife and two children.