Charts and graphs tell stories

An Amazing Story From a Graph

by Elaine Schwartz    •    May 31, 2014    •    555 Views

Sometimes one graph can tell a whole story:

Selected Areas, History,  Percent of World GDP

From: Quartz


A 4-minute animation can also convey a much bigger story.

Looking at the same time period as our graph, Hans Rosling connects national income and health. National income closely relates to GDP since people receive income for all that they produce. As a result, we can use national income stats to calculate GDP.

For the stories we tell in our graph and animation, we can perceive the GDP as a yardstick of the goods and services we produce, usually during one year.

However, it becomes ever more complicated when you have to decide what to include. During July 2013, US government statisticians began to include the dollar value of “intellectual property products” in the fixed investment category. Crucially, that meant research and development (R&D) would be recognized. In addition, music, entertainment and TV show production costs are now added to the GDP. As a result, statisticians went back as far as 1929 and revised all figures.

Rather amazing. Just hit a few computer keys and your GDP grows.

Still though, whatever we include in GDP, it conveys a message. Your comments on the message from the above graph and animation? Please do let us know in a comment.


Sources and more...The first graph is from Quartz. To look further at the GDP, we recommend econlife's discussion of the US's recent revision and Nigeria's "rebasing."  

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