Poverty Statistics that Make Sense – Welcome to Povertyville and Slumtown

April 25, 2008


Statistical Visualization

Dan Beech represents worldwide poverty in this video, which is actually a 3-dimensional bar chart with some flare:

Welcome to Povertyville, Slumtown, and Low Income city. I’m not sure what to think. Should I laugh? Should I cry? I don’t know. What do you think?

In this genre of over-produced graphs, Povertyville reminds me of the real estate roller coaster, a dramatic 3-D time series plot:


  • Nathan, you could add Gapminder’s Dollar Street. It’s a similar idea, but much more interesting, Didn’t check but some time ago it was available for download.

  • I think this is not so informative for two reasons. First, it is not clear what the data represent. Are these incomes in dollars as of date x (and exchange rate y)? Nominal or PPP-adjusted (I suspect nominal–differences would be less pronounced with PPP-adjusted data). Second objection: mixing a cardinal datum (#of people in the village) with many qualitative data (a slum at the bottom, a burgeois home) simplifies the information and conveys more the world vision of the chart creator than the message contained in these data.

    Not quite lying with statistics, but almost.

  • laugh, and cry? is that an option?

    if we disregard the truthfulness of the underlying data (as gappy refers to), I sort of appreciate how the distance between Povertyville and un-named-top-level is represented here (but not anything else about the video!).

    it seems quite easy to grasp the difference in socio-economic groups.

  • The roller coaster is pretty cool–I would have liked it if the years were indicated somewhere, but otherwise great.