Scale of Analysis

Our views on the world are often misled by stereotypes and the national image of a country. One might think the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world, is a place where starvation and poverty does not exist. Yes, it is true that the United States is a lot better off than most of the countries around the globe. However, if we zoom in and look at specific cities such as Detroit or Brooklyn, we would find people suffering from extreme poverty worse than that of some African countries. Another example would be Germany. When it comes the religions that the people in Europe practices, the different branches of Christianity would be the first thing that comes to most people’s minds. Nonetheless, most people would be shocked to know that the majority of Berlin, Germany’s population are Muslims. The scale of analysis is where you analyze a certain factor, such as culture or economy, of a specific region. It can be measured at a global scale, regional scale, national scale, or even a local scale. The scale of analysis helps us change our perceptions of the areas we’re analyzing. Today we will be analyzing Egypt’s GDP and IMR (Infant Mortality Rate). When analyzing the data, we will be looking at the global scale, North Africa and the Middle East as the regional scale, and the local scale which will be mainly focused on the capital city of Cairo.

Global GDP (nominal) Per Capital Map
Global GDP (nominal) Per Capital Map

When it comes to Egypt, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is, of course, pyramids and camels wandering around on the deserts. But economy-wise, my best guess would be that most people don’t think of Egypt as a very wealthy country, with it being stuck in between the Middle East and North Africa. Looking at the chart above,Egypt is colored in yellow, meaning that Egypt has a nominal GDP per capita lower than the countries colored in blue and green, but higher than the ones in orange and red.  The photo below is the GDP per capita ranking of 2013 done by the World Bank. Egypt was ranked number 121, so we can see that its GDP per capita is quite low compared to  a lot of other countries.


Now zooming in to the North African-Middle Eastern Region, where we’ll be analyzing the regional scale. After averaging out the GDP per capita of most of the countries within this region, we ended up with the GDP per capita of 356,163 USD. Egypt, yet, only has the GDP per capital of 3,314 (2013)  as we can see in the chart above. So compared to some of the very wealthy Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar (GDP per capita- 93,714 USD), Kuwait (GDP per capita- 52,197 USD), or the UAE (GDP per capita- 43,048 USD), Egypt is still considered a very poor country. However, Egypt is still a lot better off than other countries in its region such as Yemen, with the GDP per capita of only 1,516 USD. Therefore, if we were to rank all the countries in the North African- Middle Eastern region by GDP per capita, Egypt would be ranked right around the middle. Going down into the even closer local scale, Cairo’s GDP per capita alone is 2,782 per capita. It is significantly lower than the country’s as a whole.

GDP per capita of some of the examples provided above

Libya 12,375.4 5,685.4 13,302.8 11,964.7
Oman 20,922.7 22,984.2 23,384.8 21,929.0
Qatar 71,510.2 88,861.0 92,801.0 93,714.1
Egypt, Arab Rep. 2,803.5 2,972.6 3,256.0 3,314.5

Moving on to the other factor that will be analyzed today; IMR, or the infant mortality rate. Most people, again, would probably think that Egypt has a somewhat high infant mortality rate due to the fact that it is located in the North African- Middle Eastern Region. It is pretty safe to say that Egypt does have a pretty high infant mortality rate, with 22.41 deaths per 1,000 births. However, it is only ranked 80 on the global ranking chart, with countries like Afghanistan and Angola fighting for 1st place with over 120 deaths in every 1,000 births. Looking at the map below, we see that most of the North African- Middle East region we’re analyzing are in different shades of lighter pink, indicating that the infant mortality rate in that region isn’t actually as bad as we thought it was. However, in the poorer countries such as Yemen, the infant mortality rate can reach as high as 60 deaths in every 1,000 births, pulling the regional IMR average up. After averaging out the infant mortality rate of most of the countries in this region, we ended up with 34.5 deaths/ 1,000 births. This is much higher than Egypt’s, which tells us that Egypt is actually dealing with the problem of infant mortality quite a lot better than its neighboring countries.


Infant Mortality Rate Map (2012)
Infant Mortality Rate Map (2012)
Infant Mortality Chart in Egypt compared to Under-five Mortality and Neonatal mortality
Infant Mortality Chart in Egypt compared to Under-five Mortality and Neonatal mortality

Though Egypt as a whole only suffers from 22.41 deaths in every 1,000 births, its capital city Cairo’s infant mortality rate is significantly higher, with 35.4 deaths per 1,000 baby/ This is probably due to the fact that most of the population is concentrated in this city, which increases the rate of air pollution and other factors that risks the lives of newborn babies, thus making the death rate higher than most of the other cities.

The scale of analysis can change our perception on the world greatly, it can also at the same time help us gain a better understanding of the world and how it works. In this case of Egypt, Egypt’s actual economy and infant mortality rate doesn’t show any dramatic difference as how people perceive it. Its economy isn’t on the top like the United States or Canada, it isn’t dead on the bottom either like Sierra Leone. But it could come as shocking for some people to know that Egypt actually has a pretty good economy, ranking 40 in the global scale as we have mentioned above. Egypt’s infant mortality rate also didn’t show any big differences than how the world perceived it. But whether there’s a dramatic difference of not, using the scale of analysis helps us learn a lot more about the world and what’s actually going on there.


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