Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Phantasmagoria of Economic Data

This title exaggerates. I just wanted to be the first person in the history of the English language to write that phrase. Still, the dismal scientists who put together this interactive web tool from the OECD have found a way to present an awful lot of information about the economies of OECD nations. Here's an image from their map of Europe:

It's mostly interesting in that you can compare intranational regions internationally, if you see what I'm saying. Like, in the image above, you can compare per capita GDP in Bretagne not just to GDP in other regions of France, but to Yorkshire, Calabria, and Istanbul as well. Its graphics for Europe are especially interesting, since there's such a broad range of development among European nations - broader than you might think - and also the sub-national territories are mostly small, so the data is pretty fine-grained. You can also roll over all those various regions, bundeslander, and voivodeships to get a raft of demographic and economic data, and you can do so for the other OECD regions as well: Canada/US/Mexico, Japan/S. Korea, and Australia/New Zealand. Also: scatter plots - and that's all I'm going to say about that.

The OECD, in case you were wondering, is a group of 30 nations that are characterizzed by a high level of economic and human development, and a general commitment to democratic principles. If you were wondering further how it is that countries like Mexico and Turkey finagled their way into the group while Argentina, Chile and Brazil were left out - well, I'm sorry. I can't help you. I can't explain it. But I can report that, according to Wikipedia, in 2007 "the OECD Ministerial Council decided to open accession discussions with Chile, Estonia, Israel, the Russian Federation and Slovenia." One or two of those countries strike me as having less than a hearty commitment to democratic principles, but what do I know.