Complaint 18 December 2013

Don't Panic:  The Truth about Population
BBC2 7 November 2013 and repeats despite complaint

Status as of 28 September 2015:  

No response at Stage 2 from BBC Executive.   

No specific response
 from BBC Executive to suggestion of June 2014 that Editorial Complaints Unit may face a conflict of interest or threat to independence as a result of its own error or notification of its own error on the "dollar a day" in published ruling of 2005.


Original complaint:

1. Dollar figures misled.  

They are "purchasing power parity" units, worth far less in poorer countries than real dollars.

[Later note: This was the same error made in 2005 by the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit itself - which said it was dealing with this complaint.]


2. These dollars are not what people "get" but GDP/person, worth far less to people than World Bank survey "dollars a day" which audience knows:

a) Programme: median "$10".  
Bank: $3.40 
("PPP" in 2010). 

[Later note:  The programme confused two very different units, wrongly claiming that half the world's humans officially live on more than ten times the "dollar a day" level.]

b) "Extreme poverty" line is not "a little above one dollar" in programme's GDP dollars but much more.  

Utrecht Univ. paper, a main source for programme's figures, says $2 GDP/pp/day is equivalent
to Bank "$1.25"

So programme's line is too far to left
 to illustrate "proportions" as stated (uses log scale).

3. Income clearly is not "wealth" - proved during financial crisis.  No estimates of need, inflation for poor, assets,debts, or shared assets.

5. Part about extreme poverty line showing inability to afford food misleads, since there are
a) no estimates of inflation for poorest and 
b) no adjustments for food needs.

6. Only some economists, not "the economists" use $1.25 line.

7. Was most common income in Americas in 1963 really higher than Europe?

8. Proposal is not "eliminate" but 3% (c.250m people).

9. Failure to note unreliability of "extreme poverty" stats despite presenter stating in May: 

"plus or minus half a billion"
"emperor's new clothes".

Similar may apply to other nos./trends.

10. Similar problems in associated web pages: eg Magazine page 24836917 statements re poverty. 

"Yardstick of wealth" misleads.