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Posted at 1:54 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Lunch Break

By Ezra Klein

Changes in 200 countries, over 200 years, in four minutes:

That man can seriously visualize some data.

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 1:54 PM ET
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Next: A very smart speech by Speaker Boehner


Werner Herzog should do a documentary on him, then you could never tell who was talking, Herzog or Rosling!

Posted by: bdballard | January 5, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse


Repeat after me

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner

Thank you. No more jamming through the liberal agenda against the will of the American People


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 5, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Very cool.

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | January 5, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I now need a post coital smoke!

Getting serious, I wonder what that data point is in the early 19th century with the huge variance (it oscillates violently during the first few decades after 1810).


Posted by: chrisgaun | January 5, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

And, also, apparently, he can swallow swords, which is something I appreciate in a public-health expert.

Posted by: adamiani | January 5, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

It's mostly a trick though. Look at the x-axis: there is as much space afforded to the gap between $400 and $4,000 as there is between $4,000 and $40,000. The fact is that inequality across all these countries has skyrocketed, and the poorest countries have barely improved their income levels at all. But the shady display of the data disguises that.

It's one thing to start and end the data values on an axis at selected levels: but to use wildly intervals between the equal data points on an axis is a fairly disgraceful trick to use. And a guy as clever as Rosling is well aware of that.

Posted by: bigmandave | January 5, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

That's because income is measured on a log scale. The log scale doesn't hide internal inequality; it's hidden because only the national average income is plotted.

What's missing is carbon footprint and measures of inequity.

Instead of population, he could show per capita carbon emissions.

And he should create another graph that shows standard deviation of per capita income.

Posted by: Lonepine | January 5, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

@chrisgaun: It's Sweden. You can see the visualization at

@bigmandave: It's standard to use log scales and variables when analyzing growth, because a log scale makes changes of the same proportion show up the same throughout the graph, which is the relevant thing here. A change from 4 to 8 is the same proportion as one from 100 to 200; using a linear scale doesn't show that as clearly.

Posted by: foozbar | January 6, 2011 1:59 AM | Report abuse

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