Mapping Economic Activity for the World

Posted to Economics, Maps  |  Nathan Yau

The G-Econ (Geographically-based Economic data) group has worked on making economic data publicly available via Gross Cell Product (GCP). In other words, they’ve collected data for each 1×1 degree latitude by longitude cell on the globe. Above is a cell-by-cell globe mapping world population. Here’s one that shows world rainfall.

Check out more of these pretty world maps posted to the G-Econ Flickr photo set.


  • Yow! I saw the first map, and thought it depicted nuclear Armageddon, or maybe another dinosaur-killing asteroid.

  • Very pretty and potentially informative. BUT… very misleading. Take a look at the color renderings for the country data (apparently for 1990) on their site. According to their display, North Korea outperforms the US Midwest and most of Japan. I don’t think so.

  • neat stuff, but the website hasn’t been updated since 2006 and the flickr set is 18 months old.

    Their documentation is pretty comprehensive and they readily admit that much of the data, particularly of poorer countries, is of middling reliability.

    From their documentation: “These data allow better integration of economic and environmental data to investigate environmental economics, the impact of global warming, and the role of geophysical factors in economic activity. On of the major results is to show that the true economic deserts of the globe are in Greenland, Antarctica, northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia.” I really have to wonder if the boonies of Canada are really less economically productive than the desert heart of the Sahara.

    It’s a tough project to get right. Downloading the spreadsheet of underlying data and sorting the data by various criteria is a lot of fun.

    And of courser, the more you examine the work, the more you realize that a lot of finessing had to go into painting a pretty picture.

  • the data are definitely should be considered with many grains of salt. but if you throw accuracy out the door, the maps are pretty :)


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