Thursday, August 28, 2008

mind the gap: animated data

Hans Rosling, professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, gives an animated talk employing animated data on the TED website. In addition to the demonstration of his very cute data-visualisation software, Trendalyzer, the talk discusses the relationships between a nation's child mortality rates, GDP, family size and various other values. Some surprising (to me anyway) trends from the last 40 years of worldwide development are revealed. In particular, there does seem to be a global upturn in health as measured by these simple statistics. The spread of wealth seems to be flattening across the nations, and the health and wealth of the "developing world" is approaching that of the West. However when viewing statistics within each country, similar trends are not necessarily present, the divide between haves and have-nots remains.

More information on the software and associated projects is available from Rosling's not-for-profit organisation, Gapminder. A quick play reveals Australia is up there with Japan and Switzerland amongst the very top few nations for life expectancy. As individuals we don't quite have the material wealth of some other countries (e.g. Luxembourg!), but we seem to live a couple of years longer. We also emit a lot of CO2. I wonder if data is available to compare the number of stadia, museums and art galleries, theatres and concert halls per capita between countries. Just curious.

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