Economists Do It With Models

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Graphic Content Done Right, Global Health Edition…

December 5th, 2010 · 2 Comments
Fun With Data · Graphic Content

I think that a number of textbooks could stand to learn from this:

“I know that having the data is not enough…I have to show it ways people both enjoy and understand.” Hear hear. The technology here is cool as well, but I actually don’t think that it’s crucial to understanding and enjoying the information. Most of what Rosling does that is helpful is so simple- for example, he narrates a description of the axes on his graph. That is clearly not rocket science, but how often are these helpful details omitted? I also like that he explains what the different areas of the graph mean before he starts putting points on the graph. On the other hand, I would have liked some sort of permanent reminder as to which color was which continent, since I forgot pretty quickly after he introduced the colors. Overall, I really enjoyed this and think that there should be more thought and care put into data narration.

Rosling clearly has something to teach economists in the way of data presentation and narration. However, I think that economists potentially have something to teach Rosling about the correlation vs. causation problem, and perhaps about making it explicit when and if numbers are adjusted for inflation. 🙂 (I mean, it seems intuitively reasonable that money causes longer life expectancy, but do we actually know that? If you look at the animated graph, you will notice that some countries move up along the life-expectancy axis before they move to the right along the $$ axis, which gives me pause as to the presence/direction of causality.)

Tags: Fun With Data · Graphic Content

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Justin Ross // Dec 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    FWIW, “Life Expectancy” is almost always calculated as Life Expectancy at Birth. It is still very possible (likely?) that there is a causality problem (at least in terms of magnitudes), but the method of calculation makes it possible for the life expectancy to rise ahead of the income level.

  • 2 Remigio // Dec 7, 2010 at 1:15 am

    That was an insane presentation. I had some questions though or rather suggestions for a possible edit. For all those countries which have stagnated on the poor and sick spectrum what caused them to stay there. I mean maybe a semi-detailed explanation has to what caused them to not rise like the other emerging countries.

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