As another bleak year draws to a close, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve learned in the last 12 months – for better or worse. And joining such listicles as 2018’s top password fails, most-discussed science, and most exciting military discoveries, comes the Statistics of the Year 2018, courtesy of the Royal Statistical Society itself.
No, we get it. Statistics isn't sexy. It isn’t cute, like zoology, or filled with the terrifying prospects of climate science. It’s nowhere near as kinky as anthropology. But like a two-dimensional love interest in a nineties teen comedy, what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in smarts, and the Statistics of the Year offer a crucial snapshot into the highs, lows, and curiosities of 2018.
27.8 percent - the amount of electricity produced from solar power in one day during the UK heatwave.
2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, thanks mostly to humanity’s never-ending quest to boil the planet to death, and this year UK citizens were treated to a summer so scorching that roads literally melted out from under them. Despite this, the UK Statistic of 2018 is the record-breaking proportion of electricity the country produced from solar power on June 30.
9.5 - the percentage point reduction in worldwide relative poverty over the last decade.
Poverty is relative. Somebody in the USA might be richer than someone in Malawi, but that won’t do them much good when they can’t afford basic healthcare. Luckily, this statistic puts the proportion of people living in relative poverty worldwide today at less than half of what it was in 2008. Hooray!
64,946 - the number of measles cases in Europe between November 2017 and October 2018.
It’s been a baller year for conspiracy theorists in Europe, with anti-vaccine sentiment rising in the public and even in certain governments (Italy, we’re looking at you.) It’s not surprising, therefore, that the continent has seen a massive surge in measles cases, causing dozens of entirely preventable deaths. American readers shouldn’t get too smug though – you’re next.
6.4 percent - the proportion of executive directors in FTSE 250 companies who are women.
In the words of Tammy Wynette, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, and there are few places that’s more true than in the boardroom. This year we learned that only 6.4 percent of executive directors in FTSE 250 companies are women – a drop of nearly 20 percent since 2017.