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Economic Development

Mahalanobis created the following graph to illustrate how different regions of the world compare to OECD countries in terms of economic growth (Look here for entire post: Mahalanobis.)

MahaoecdAdmittedly, he did this over "two bottles of wine", imposing the blue lines on top of the red "base OECD trajectory".

The key messages that can be discerned from this chart are few:

  • China, India, East Asia have caught up hundreds of years during the 52 years between 1950 and 2001.
  • Despite fast growth, India and East Asia still lag significantly behind

After some thought, I came up with this graphic:

Redomahaoecd2Here I have lined up all the regions so they are separated by the same horizontal distance of 52 years apart.

The speed of growth is coded in the gradients of the line segments.

The OECD baseline trajectory is colored in blue so that any region's speed of growth can be contrasted with the baseline.

What additional insights can be drawn from this graphic?

  • The regions are bunched together much more tightly in 2001 than in 1950.
  • East Asia, India and China achieved the most spectacular growth but as of 2001, these regions still occupy 3 out of the last 4 slots.
  • Latin America was the only region to have growth slower than the baseline (smaller gradient).
  • Surprisingly (to me), Africa's speed of development approximated those of Asian Dragons and NIEs (similar gradients) in the last 52 years.

This set of data presents quite a challenge for visualization.  You're encouraged to submit alternative charts in the comments.


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