Thursday, June 29, 2006


Via Crooked Timber - Gapminder is an incredible tool which lets you view international development statistics as animated graphs.

Have a look at this graph of life expectancy, versus GNP by country, animated by year. And then watch the interactive UNDP human development trends data show (it's on the front page, just scroll down a little).

Here's a snapshot from the Life Expectancy v GNP graph. I've tracked three countries on it. The first, Rwanda, is a tragic illustration of what genocide really means: in a few short years, life expectancy plummets from almost 45 years to slightly under 25 years, then the economy tanks. After that, you see a shaky climb back up to somewhere near where they were in 1975 (maybe a bit richer, but with a slightly lower life expectancy.) The second country I've tracked is South Korea - a development success story with a steady increase in wealth and health. The third country I've tracked is Botswana, which was for many year's considered sub-Saharan Africa's own model of success. Indeed it's trajectory is similar to South Korea's at first (just a decade behind: in 1985 it was where Korea was in 1975). Then, in the early 1990s, AIDS arrives and it drops off the edge of a cliff. Had its initial positive trend continued, Botswana may have had a life expectancy of about 70 come the turn of the millennium; instead it's around 35).

The impact of AIDS.

No comments: