Weighing Indices in the UN E-Government Survey

May 14, 2010

The United Nations E-government Survey index is a weighted combination of three indices:

  • Web Measure, which represents the sophistication level of online citizen services.
  • Human Capital, which represents the education level of a country.  This index is again weighted with two-third weight of adult literacy and one-third to weights to enrollment.
  • ICT Infrastructure, which represents the infrastructure in a country. This is again average weighted including  number of computers per person, telephone lines, mobile phones etc.

These three are all weighted equally contributing 1/3 to the score, which means that formally the e-readiness is as following:
E-readiness =

1/3 * Web Measure +

1/3 * Human Development +

1/3 * ICT Infrastructure

An interesting question that follows is what happens if we assign other weights to these indices For example, if we change the weights, can we also change the ranking a country gets?

Using Monaco as an example, it was ranked as member state number 112 in the UN e-readiness survey 2010. However, by adjusting weights of the three indices, we can change the ranking of Monaco from 112 up to 25, or down to 184.

In the following plot, possibile combination from 10% up to 80% of the three indicies are plotted and the corresponding ranking of Monaco.

Ranking of Monaco when weighting the indicies Web Measure, Human Capital and ICT Infrastructure differently

Similarly, the following graphs how the top five member states, according to the E-readiness ranking in the 2010 survey, would rank if different weights would be used.

Ranking of the top five countries with different weights

(Note that for reason of clarity some weightings have deliberatly been removed).

The question which naturally arises is:

Why does the current E-readiness index use equal weights, and is this any more correct than any weights?

Thanks do Deniz Susar for input on this idea.