As the 2010's draw to a close, the RSS has announced its International and UK Statistics of the Decade (2010-19).
Following on from our Statistics of the Year announcement, the judging panel were looking for stand-out statistics that capture the zeitgeist of the last ten years.
The winners are as follows:
Winner - International Statistic of the Decade
8.4 million: The estimated accumulated deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, over the past decade, is equivalent to around 8.4 million football pitches (based on deforestation monitoring results from FIFA's regulations on pitch dimensions).
Professor Jennifer Rogers, chair of the judging panel and RSS vice-president for external affairs, commented: Irreplaceable rainforests like the Amazon are shrinking at an alarming rate and this statistic gives a very powerful visual of a hugely important environmental issue. Much has been discussed regarding the environment in the last few years and the judging panel felt this statistic was highly effective in capturing one of the decade’s worst examples of environmental degradation.'
Winner - UK Statistic of the Decade
0.3%: The estimated average annual increase in UK productivity in the decade or so since the financial crisis (source: Office for National Statistics).
The judging panel chose this statistic as it represents a sharp contrast to the pre-crisis period (1997-2007), when productivity growth (output per hour worked) averaged around 2% per year. It means that the UK has experienced its worst decade for productivity growth since the early 1800s. Output per hour would now be more than a fifth higher if UK productivity had remained on its pre-2008 trend. Although productivity growth has also slowed in other advanced economies, the slowdown in the UK has been particularly marked.
'Most people won’t have paid attention to a dull sounding number on productivity,' says RSS executive director Hetan Shah. 'But we think it is probably the most important UK statistic of the last decade as productivity is the single biggest key to our shared prosperity. There’s a strong argument to say that if the UK could lift its productivity we would be less out of sorts with ourselves as a nation, as we would have more money in our pockets and more money for government to spend on public services. With the election over, the RSS hopes that by naming 0.3% as our UK Statistic of the Decade we can draw the new Government’s attention to solving this critical issue.'
Watch: RSS executive director Hetan Shah explains the significance of the winning stats.
Highly Commended – UK Statistics of the Decade
27%: Over one in four (3.5 million) young adults (aged 20-34) are now estimated to live with their parents, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This surge in young adults living with their parents has led to the coining of the term the ‘boomerang generation’ - those who leave then return home after university or college as they are unable to afford soaring rents or need to save for longer, to put down a deposit on a home of their own.
30.6%: Women now hold 30.6% of all board positions in the UK’s 350 biggest listed companies - up from just 9.5% in early 2011 (source: FTSE Women Leaders).
The judges chose this figure as the last decade has seen a concerted and successful effort to increase the number of women in the boardrooms of UK plc. The ‘30% Club’, formed by Helena Morrissey in 2010, was a key driver of this and targeted improvements in FTSE100 companies - with its focus subsequently shifting to the FTSE350.
Highly Commended – International Statistics of the Decade
165 million: The estimated increase in the number of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) globally – from around 35 million to 200 million since 2010 (source: International Energy Agency).
The fast-growing popularity of SUVs is significant as they tend to consume more fuel and generate higher emissions than standard cars, as they’re generally heavier and less aerodynamic. The growing prevalence of SUVs is more than offsetting all the emissions savings being made by other car-owners switching to electric vehicles. Members of the judging panel were particularly struck by this statistic as it highlights that for change to happen, discussion cannot be focussed alone on encouraging people to buy alternatively-fuelled vehicles.
19%: According to the latest statistics, published in 2019, the global age-standardised death rate from air pollution fell by 19% over the period 2007-17 (source: Our World in Data).
This positive progress is not confined to the ten year period covered by this commended statistic as, since 1990, the number of deaths globally due to air pollution, per 100,000 people, has nearly halved. This decline has been primarily driven by improvements in indoor air quality.
Many thanks to our judging panel and also to Stats Ambassador Anthony Masters for his help in checking the stats.
Find out more about the 2019 Statistics of the Year.
Follow the hashtag #StatsoftheDecade to follow the online discussion.