I’ve been using the Gapminder software to explore statistics about the world around me. Here I’ve collected my posts on this subject:

The Ignorance Olympics: (29 December 2013) In a survey between the US, the UK and Sweden of peoples’ knowledge about global health and demographics, the most knowledgeable group turns out to be chimpanzees.

Progress: (28 August 2012) In 1861, the country with the longest average life expectancy was Denmark, at 48 years. In 2011, the countries with the shortest average life expectancy were Sierra Leone, Congo and Lesotho, also at 48 years.

Kazakhstan: BMI and PCI: (21 May 2012) Per-capita income data shows that Kazakhstani wallets are growing quickly. But body mass index (BMI) figures indicate that both men and women are benefiting almost equally from this growth. Overall, that’s a very good sign.

Muslim nations unlikely to overtake Christian ones in population: (22 Apr 2012) Contrary to what Osama bin Laden and Anders Behring Breivik might think, Muslim-majority nations are unlikely to overtake Christian-majority nations in population this century. And, due to low birth rates, secular nations stand to lose the most ground.

Harvard’s Brain-Bender: (2 Feb 2012) A graph in Harvard Business Review claims that an electricity consumption level of 2,500 kilowatt-hours per person per year or above is correlated with a high Human Development Index (HDI) score, but looking at the data in Gapminder makes it clear that there is nothing special about that number.

Who Contributes More to Alcohol Consumption: Teen Boys or Old Ladies?: (5 Aug 2011) Graphing average alcohol consumption vs. the percentage of the population that is either Teenage Boys or Old Ladies makes the old folks’ home look like Spring Break, but is that really the case?

The Coming Chinese Entrepreneurial Boom: (14 Jul 2011) The rising ratio of males to females in the 15-49-year age group could mean more violence in China in the coming decades. But it could also mean more entrepreneurship.

The One-Child Policy’s Impact on Chinese Fertility: (7 Jul 2011)  China’s TFR was 2.74 when the one-child policy started in 1979, less than half of what it had been just 10 years prior to the launch.

Western Europeans are Cowboys: (6 Jul 2011)  When you think of wild lands full of cowboys, you might imagine the US, Australia, even Canada. But Gapminder’s stats show that to find real cowboys, you might be better off looking in Western Europe.

There’s No Place Like China: (1 Jul 2011) Mara Hvistendahl’s book Unnatural Selection is based on the ideas that sex selection is a major and growing problem, that Western influences were effective in fostering sex selection, and that high sex ratios are detrimental to social development. Gapminder’s data calls into question whether or not any of these things is true.

The Romanian Baby Bump: (30 Jun 2011) When Romania banned abortion in 1966, the Total Fertility Rate jumped. But you don’t see that in Gapminder’s data.

White People are Drug Addicts: (29 Jun 2011) The countries where more than 30% of adults smoke and where the per-capita annual level of alcohol consumption is more than 10 liters are all European countries.

Lord of the Files: (22 Jun 2011) Mara Hvistendahl’s book ‘Unnatural Selection’ is concerned with gender disparities, particularly in China. Gapminder’s data files seem to indicate that countries with a low boy-to-girl ratio are worse off than those with a high ratio. I have no idea who (Hvistendahl or Gapminder) is right or how to explain the difference.

Asian People are Good Drivers: (18 Jun 2011) Contrary to the stereotype, Gapminder’s data seems to indicate that people in Asian countries experience fewer traffic deaths per person, for any given level of vehicle prevalence, than average. In fact, some of the lowest traffic death rates in the world are found in Japan and Singapore.

Dancing with Data: Behind Hans Rosling’s Graphs: (12 May 2011) Dr. Hans Rosling uses a chart of ‘Child Mortality’ vs. ‘Total Fertility Rate’ to show that the gap between large-family/high-child-deaths countries and small-family/low-child-deaths countries has largely evaporated in the past few decades. I use a simple mathematical model to offer one possible explanation of why.


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