Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Gapminder: Resource to compare countries

I have recently become aware of an interesting Swedish site called Gapminder. They have aggregated a large amount of statistics and allow you to plot them in a variety of ways. It covers health, income, disease and mortality, and several other parameters.

What I found of interest was their income and life expectancy graphs on Gapminder World. The basic frame is graph with a variety of options.


Life expectancy is on the left. It is a linear scale, though this can switched to a log scale. Income is on the bottom defaulting to a log scale (adjustable to linear). And the country size is plotted according to population. This can be adjusted to a fixed size, or a host of other variable such as aid received, education, energy use.

The year can be adjusted, or you can watch the changes unfold over the last 200 years. Countries can be highlighted for comparison.


And you can track changes of several countries over time.


What is of some interest is that life expectancy increased before income in many of the countries. I also found it interesting to note the slow economic progress or even regress of countries with poor governance compared to reasonably rapid gains in countries where there is rule of law and economic freedom. Compare Zimbabwe to Botswana and note the rise of Singapore and Hong Kong, neither of which have many natural resources, or even land or water.

Of course one is limited to the accuracy of the data, data from some countries is far more accurate than others.

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