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Gapminder and Dollar Street

In my yearly review of 2017, I wrote about how different generations in my family have lived their lives and what technologies and life improvements they’ve seen for the first time. My description was based solely on conversations with family members and my memory. However, this year, I learned about Rosling’s country levels framework used by Gapminder Foundation. People living in extreme poverty are on level 1 while most affluent people in the world live on level 4. The majority live somewhere in the middle.

Gapminder’s bubble chart history tool aligns nicely with how I told the story. Croatia of my grandparents was on level 2 in the 1930s. My parents saw it jump to level 3 in their lifetime and pushed their kids towards level 4. I currently live in Switzerland which is a level 4 country on average.

A bubble chart showing Croatia’s progress from level two to level 4 in terms of life expectancy and income.

Another impressive tool from Gapminder Foundation is Dollar Street. From the website:

Imagine the world as a street. All houses are lined up by income, the poor living to the left and the rich to the right. Everybody else somewhere in between. Where would you live? Would your life look different than your neighbors' from other parts of the world, who share the same income level?

Dollar Street is an inexpensive way of getting a glimpse of how people live around the world. The two screenshots below show a family living on level 1 …

Household photos of a poor family.

… and another family living on level 4.

Household photos of an affluent family.

Only 200 years ago, most people lived in abject poverty. The incredible progress of humanity and my current situation make me grateful and fortunate. I also think more and more about when and how billions of people will be able to enjoy the same lifestyle, and how the affluent can reduce their environmental footprint to sustain that lifestyle. With the current speed of progress, both will have to be reckoned with during my lifetime.

All images and photos are from Gapminder and licensed under CC 4.0.

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