Fascinating Look at How Wealth Influences Your Health

Previous Article Next Article
May 12, 2009 | 38,726 views

Gapminder.org can now visualize change in life expectancy and income per person over the last two centuries. In the video above, Hans Rosling, professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and director of the Gapminder Foundation, shows you how all the countries of the world have developed over the past years.

I encourage you to look at this fascinating interactive graph for details.

In the subsequent videos, Rosling again uses his data tools to show how countries are pulling themselves out of poverty, and explains what population growth really is.
Hans Rosling founded Gapminder.org along with his son Ola Rosling and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund as a modern “museum” that helps make the world understandable, using the Internet.

Indeed, his Trendalyzer software does an incredible job of showing exactly how world populations grow and decline, based on economics and family size, in a way that has never been done before. One of their primary goals, as stated on their Web site, is simply to give all people “free access to already existing statistics about global development to easily improve their understanding about the complex society.”

I encourage you to not only watch all three videos above, but also set aside some time to explore their interactive graphs. In just a few minutes you can get an entirely new perspective on the world.

The Truth About Population Growth

One of the most fascinating statistics revealed by Rosling is the fact that population growth will most likely level off in several decades, reaching 9-10 billion by 2050, and the key to stopping that growth lies in family planning and smaller family sizes. It seems that this happens in countries naturally as they progress toward longer life expectancy and better health.   

Life expectancy, meanwhile, seems to grow as per capita income increases.

One factor we know has very little to do with life expectancy, however, is health care spending.

The United States spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. But it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing avoidable deaths through use of timely and effective medical care.

Amazingly, other countries manage to achieve longer life expectancies than the United States while paying a mere fraction of the U.S. health care cost per capita.

U.S. life expectancy is just under 78 years -- one of the lowest life expectancies among developed nations. Lower than Cuba’s, and just marginally higher than the super power of Slovenia, according to figures from the United Nations.

So what impact does U.S. health care spending have on Americans' life expectancy?

Apparently, not much!  Well, that is a topic for another time, but if you’re interested you can read more about the flaws surrounding the U.S. health care system here.

Do You Want to Create a Motion Chart of Your Own?

One really great feature of Rosling’s Trendalyzer software is that it’s set up so you can create your very own motion chart using any data you want. All you need to have is a Google account (they’re free).

Once you’re logged in, go to Google Documents and create a new spreadsheet. Then, click Insert> Gadget from the menu and use the Motion Chart gadget.

This is a simple and powerful way of sharing knowledge with everyone you know.