Several steps beyond hanging your world map upside down
What is this strange graphic, you ask? It’s our familiar globe, morphed to represent the world’s population as it is distributed between countries. That’s why India is so large, while Canada barely exists. This creative projection is from Worldmapper, my new favourite website.
Freakonomics posted about Worldmapper a couple years back, but I get the sense it’s expanded significantly since then. Created by a group of academics, mostly at the University of Sheffield, it now includes 366 maps where the size of each country is morphed to reflect various data. The maps cover the familiar (military spending, poverty) and the obscure (yellow fever, molluscs at risk). You can print off a colourful info sheet for each map, and more importantly access the relevant data in several formats.
It’s worth carefully reading what each map represents, since this isn’t the sort of data we’re used to. For example, this map of prison population shows the proportion of the world’s prisoners that live in each country. That’s not the same thing as highlighting countries with a particularly large proportion of their population in prison. (For extra credit, flip between the prisoner map and this one of prisoners awaiting trial.)
A number of maps reflect the status of women around the globe. To get a sense of where the wage gap is widest, flip between men’s income and women’s income. Flip between women’s market hours and women’s home hours to see where women have been incorporated into the market economy.
I was struck by how much some of these maps contrast with the ways we usually discuss women’s empowerment around the world. Girls’ education in Afghanistan, for example, gets a lot of media play in Canada. But check out this map, where “territory size is proportional [to] the world distribution of the excess male over female enrolment in primary education.” Maybe we should be talking more about India.
The site is a phenomenal tool, and definitely worth a few hours. Maybe it’s time to extend “always graph your data” to “always map your data.” And what do you know? There’s already an ArcGIS tool to help you.
(Hat tip to Undergraduate Economist.)