Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen

About 10 years ago, I took on the task
to teach global development to Swedish undergraduate students. That was after having spent
about 20 years, together with African institutions, studying hunger in Africa. So I was sort of expected
to know a little about the world. And I started, in our medical university,
Karolinska Institute, an undergraduate course
called Global Health. But when you get that opportunity,
you get a little nervous. I thought, these students coming to us
actually have the highest grade you can get in the Swedish college system, so I thought, maybe they know everything
I’m going to teach them about. So I did a pretest when they came. And one of the questions
from which I learned a lot was this one: “Which country has the highest
child mortality of these five pairs?” And I put them together
so that in each pair of countries, one has twice the child
mortality of the other. And this means that
it’s much bigger, the difference, than the uncertainty of the data. I won’t put you at a test here,
but it’s Turkey, which is highest there, Poland,
Russia, Pakistan and South Africa. And these were the results
of the Swedish students. I did it so I got the confidence interval,
which is pretty narrow. And I got happy, of course — a 1.8
right answer out of five possible. That means there was a place
for a professor of international health and for my course. (Laughter) But one late night,
when I was compiling the report, I really realized my discovery. I have shown that Swedish top students
know, statistically, significantly less about the world
than the chimpanzees. (Laughter) Because the chimpanzee
would score half right if I gave them two bananas
with Sri Lanka and Turkey. They would be right half of the cases.
But the students are not there. The problem for me was not ignorance;
it was preconceived ideas. I did also an unethical study of the professors
of the Karolinska Institute, which hands out
the Nobel Prize in Medicine, and they are on par
with the chimpanzee there. (Laughter) This is where I realized that
there was really a need to communicate, because the data
of what’s happening in the world and the child health of every country is very well aware. So we did this software,
which displays it like this. Every bubble here is a country. This country over here is China. This is India. The size of the bubble is the population, and on this axis here,
I put fertility rate. Because my students, what they said when they looked upon the world,
and I asked them, “What do you really
think about the world?” Well, I first discovered
that the textbook was Tintin, mainly. (Laughter) And they said, “The world
is still ‘we’ and ‘them.’ And ‘we’ is the Western world
and ‘them’ is the Third World.” “And what do you mean
with ‘Western world?'” I said. “Well, that’s long life and small family. And ‘Third World’ is short life
and large family.” So this is what I could display here. I put fertility rate here — number of children per woman:
one, two, three, four, up to about eight children per woman. We have very good data
since 1962, 1960, about, on the size of families in all countries. The error margin is narrow. Here, I put life expectancy at birth, from 30 years in some countries,
up to about 70 years. And in 1962, there was really
a group of countries here that were industrialized countries, and they had small families
and long lives. And these were the developing countries. They had large families
and they had relatively short lives. Now, what has happened since 1962?
We want to see the change. Are the students right?
It’s still two types of countries? Or have these developing countries
got smaller families and they live here? Or have they got longer lives
and live up there? Let’s see. We stopped the world then. This is all UN statistics
that have been available. Here we go. Can you see there? It’s China there, moving against
better health there, improving there. All the green Latin American countries
are moving towards smaller families. Your yellow ones here
are the Arabic countries, and they get longer life,
but not larger families. The Africans are the green here.
They still remain here. This is India; Indonesia
is moving on pretty fast. In the ’80s here, you have Bangladesh
still among the African countries. But now, Bangladesh — it’s a miracle
that happens in the ’80s — the imams start to promote
family planning, and they move up into that corner. And in the ’90s, we have
the terrible HIV epidemic that takes down the life expectancy
of the African countries. And the rest of them all
move up into the corner, where we have long lives and small family, and we have a completely new world. (Applause) (Applause ends) Let me make a comparison directly between the United States
of America and Vietnam. 1964: America had small families and long life; Vietnam had large families
and short lives. And this is what happens. The data during the war indicate
that even with all the death, there was an improvement
of life expectancy. By the end of the year,
family planning started in Vietnam, and they went for smaller families. And the United States up there
is getting longer life, keeping family size. And in the ’80s now,
they give up Communist planning and they go for market economy, and it moves faster even than social life. And today, we have in Vietnam the same life expectancy
and the same family size here in Vietnam, 2003, as in United States, 1974,
by the end of the war. I think we all, if we don’t
look at the data, we underestimate
the tremendous change in Asia, which was in social change
before we saw the economic change. So let’s move over to another way here in which we could display
the distribution in the world of income. This is the world distribution
of income of people. One dollar, 10 dollars
or 100 dollars per day. There’s no gap between rich
and poor any longer. This is a myth. There’s a little hump here. But there are people all the way. And if we look where the income ends up, this is 100 percent
of the world’s annual income. And the richest 20 percent, they take out of that about 74 percent. And the poorest 20 percent,
they take about two percent. And this shows that the concept
of developing countries is extremely doubtful. We think about aid, like these people here giving aid
to these people here. But in the middle, we have
most of the world population, and they have now
24 percent of the income. We heard it in other forms. And who are these? Where are the different countries? I can show you Africa. This is Africa. Ten percent of the world population, most in poverty. This is OECD — the rich countries,
the country club of the UN. And they are over here on this side.
Quite an overlap between Africa and OECD. And this is Latin America. It has everything on this earth,
from the poorest to the richest in Latin America. And on top of that,
we can put East Europe, we can put East Asia,
and we put South Asia. And what did it look like
if we go back in time, to about 1970? Then, there was more of a hump. And most who lived
in absolute poverty were Asians. The problem in the world
was the poverty in Asia. And if I now let the world move forward, you will see that
while population increases, there are hundreds of millions
in Asia getting out of poverty, and some others getting into poverty, and this is the pattern we have today. And the best projection
from the World Bank is that this will happen, and we will not have a divided world. We’ll have most people in the middle. Of course it’s a logarithmic scale here, but our concept of economy
is growth with percent. We look upon it as a possibility
of percentile increase. If I change this and take GDP per capita
instead of family income, and I turn these individual data into regional data
of gross domestic product, and I take the regions down here, the size of the bubble
is still the population. And you have the OECD there,
and you have sub-Saharan Africa there, and we take off the Arab states there, coming both from Africa and from Asia, and we put them separately, and we can expand this axis,
and I can give it a new dimension here, by adding the social values
there, child survival. Now I have money on that axis, and I have the possibility
of children to survive there. In some countries, 99.7% of children
survive to five years of age; others, only 70. And here, it seems,
there is a gap between OECD, Latin America, East Europe, East Asia, Arab states, South Asia
and sub-Saharan Africa. The linearity is very strong
between child survival and money. But let me split sub-Saharan Africa. Health is there
and better health is up there. I can go here, and I can split
sub-Saharan Africa into its countries. And when it bursts, the size of each country bubble
is the size of the population. Sierra Leone down there,
Mauritius is up there. Mauritius was the first country
to get away with trade barriers, and they could sell their sugar,
they could sell their textiles, on equal terms as the people
in Europe and North America. There’s a huge difference [within] Africa. And Ghana is here in the middle. In Sierra Leone, humanitarian aid. Here in Uganda, development aid. Here, time to invest;
there, you can go for a holiday. There’s tremendous variation
within Africa, which we very often make
that it’s equal everything. I can split South Asia here.
India’s the big bubble in the middle. But there’s a huge difference
between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. I can split Arab states. How are they? Same climate, same culture,
same religion — huge difference. Even between neighbors — Yemen, civil war; United Arab Emirates, money,
which was quite equally and well-used. Not as the myth is. And that includes all the children
of the foreign workers who are in the country. Data is often better than you think.
Many people say data is bad. There is an uncertainty margin,
but we can see the difference here: Cambodia, Singapore. The differences are much bigger
than the weakness of the data. East Europe: Soviet economy
for a long time, but they come out after 10 years
very, very differently. And there is Latin America. Today, we don’t have to go to Cuba to find a healthy country
in Latin America. Chile will have a lower child mortality
than Cuba within some few years from now. Here, we have high-income
countries in the OECD. And we get the whole pattern
here of the world, which is more or less like this. And if we look at it, how the world looks, in 1960, it starts to move. This is Mao Zedong.
He brought health to China. And then he died. And then Deng Xiaoping came
and brought money to China, and brought them
into the mainstream again. And we have seen how countries
move in different directions like this, so it’s sort of difficult to get
an example country which shows the pattern of the world. But I would like to bring you back
to about here, at 1960. I would like to compare
South Korea, which is this one, with Brazil, which is this one. The label went away for me here. And I would like to compare
Uganda, which is there. I can run it forward, like this. And you can see how South Korea is making
a very, very fast advancement, whereas Brazil is much slower. And if we move back again, here,
and we put trails on them, like this, you can see again that the speed of development
is very, very different, and the countries are moving
more or less at the same rate as money and health, but it seems you can move much faster if you are healthy first
than if you are wealthy first. And to show that, you can put
on the way of United Arab Emirates. They came from here, a mineral country. They cached all the oil;
they got all the money; but health cannot be bought
at the supermarket. You have to invest in health.
You have to get kids into schooling. You have to train health staff.
You have to educate the population. And Sheikh Zayed did that
in a fairly good way. In spite of falling oil prices,
he brought this country up here. So we’ve got a much more mainstream
appearance of the world, where all countries tend
to use their money better than they used it in the past. Now, this is, more or less, if you look
at the average data of the countries — they are like this. That’s dangerous, to use average data, because there is such
a lot of difference within countries. So if I go and look here, we can see that Uganda today
is where South Korea was in 1960. If I split Uganda, there’s quite
a difference within Uganda. These are the quintiles of Uganda. The richest 20 percent
of Ugandans are there. The poorest are down there. If I split South Africa, it’s like this. And if I go down and look at Niger, where there was such
a terrible famine [recently], it’s like this. The 20 percent poorest
of Niger is out here, and the 20 percent richest
of South Africa is there, and yet we tend to discuss
what solutions there should be in Africa. Everything in this world exists in Africa. And you can’t discuss
universal access to HIV [treatment] for that quintile up here with the same strategy as down here. The improvement of the world
must be highly contextualized, and it’s not relevant to have it
on a regional level. We must be much more detailed. We find that students get very excited
when they can use this. And even more, policy makers
and the corporate sectors would like to see
how the world is changing. Now, why doesn’t this take place? Why are we not using the data we have? We have data in the United Nations,
in the national statistical agencies and in universities and other
nongovernmental organizations. Because the data is hidden
down in the databases. And the public is there,
and the internet is there, but we have still not used it effectively. All that information
we saw changing in the world does not include
publicly funded statistics. There are some web pages
like this, you know, but they take some nourishment
down from the databases, but people put prices on them,
stupid passwords and boring statistics. (Laughter) And this won’t work. (Applause) So what is needed? We have the databases. It’s not a new database that you need. We have wonderful design tools
and more and more are added up here. So we started a nonprofit venture
linking data to design, we called “Gapminder,” from the London Underground,
where they warn you, “Mind the gap.” So we thought Gapminder was appropriate. And we started to write software
which could link the data like this. And it wasn’t that difficult. It took some person years,
and we have produced animations. You can take a data set and put it there. We are liberating UN data,
some few UN organization. Some countries accept that
their databases can go out on the world. But what we really need is,
of course, a search function, a search function where we can copy
the data up to a searchable format and get it out in the world. And what do we hear when we go around? I’ve done anthropology
on the main statistical units. Everyone says, “It’s impossible.
This can’t be done. Our information is so peculiar in detail, so that cannot be searched
as others can be searched. We cannot give the data
free to the students, free to the entrepreneurs of the world.” But this is what we would
like to see, isn’t it? The publicly funded data is down here. And we would like flowers
to grow out on the net. One of the crucial points
is to make them searchable, and then people can use the different
design tools to animate it there. And I have pretty good news for you. I have good news that the [current], new head of UN statistics
doesn’t say it’s impossible. He only says, “We can’t do it.” (Laughter) And that’s a quite clever guy, huh? (Laughter) So we can see a lot happening
in data in the coming years. We will be able to look at income
distributions in completely new ways. This is the income distribution
of China, 1970. This is the income distribution
of the United States, 1970. Almost no overlap. Almost no overlap. And what has happened? What has happened is this: that China is growing,
it’s not so equal any longer, and it’s appearing here,
overlooking the United States, almost like a ghost, isn’t it? (Laughter) It’s pretty scary. (Laughter) But I think it’s very important
to have all this information. We need really to see it. And instead of looking at this, I would like to end up by showing
the internet users per 1,000. In this software, we access
about 500 variables from all the countries quite easily. It takes some time to change for this, but on the axes, you can quite easily
get any variable you would like to have. And the thing would be
to get up the databases free, to get them searchable,
and with a second click, to get them into the graphic formats,
where you can instantly understand them. Now, statisticians don’t like it,
because they say that this will not show the reality; we have to have statistical,
analytical methods. But this is hypothesis-generating. I end now with the world. There, the internet is coming. The number of internet users
are going up like this. This is the GDP per capita. And it’s a new technology coming in,
but then amazingly, how well it fits to the economy
of the countries. That’s why the $100 computer
will be so important. But it’s a nice tendency. It’s as if the world
is flattening off, isn’t it? These countries are lifting more
than the economy, and it will be very interesting
to follow this over the year, as I would like you to be able to do
with all the publicly funded data. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Comments 100

  • It is ironic that despite gathering more and more data and having software tools that allow breakdown, analysis and visualisation in such a detailed manner as shown in this video, that 'average data' is still used to exert so much influence over the world………just look at what's happening with the "gender pay gap".

    The gender pay gap argument is based around a single statistic which considers only average pay across all men and compares that to average pay across all women. It takes no account of individual circumstances, occupation, overall hours worked, working conditions, danger, shift work, retirement age, education level/subject area, career breaks, flexible working, work life balance, commuting time/distance, negotiation tactics etc……and yet almost daily we see stories detailing what must be done to close this gap.

    You can't really close the gender pay gap in a meaningful way unless you close the gaps in all those areas listed above (and which have a strong causal link with pay).

  • There's too much money hiding in the background. 😉

  • So what you're saying is the western world's tendency to generously contribute its technology to the third world improves the lives of third world nations?

  • This is one lecture that AOC must of missed in Economics class.

  • There's lies, damn lies, and Hans Rosling. He is entertaining though.

  • So where is it TODAY? It's been a dozen years… have they gotten anywhere? There should be a Part 2, with a link added to the end of this video!

  • How the F a 12 years old video showed up in my recomendations?

  • So the third world joined us in the first. You think we didnt know that?

  • Ahh, back when Ted talks were educational, data-driven presentations. Nowadays they're mostly just platforms for random people's political causes and dubious business endeavors, supported only by their personal intuitions and anecdotes.

  • What software was he using for those sweet animations?

  • If you're reading this in 2007 I suggest selling your stocks and mining bitcoin in a couple years

  • India is still below 70 years of life span and has the most people.
    meanwhile, it's still lacking plumbing..
    i don't know about you, but, let's focus on the issues here.

  • 2 min in and already see a problem. The third world countries have much higher infant morality rates if they where measured the same as 1st world countries. Still bourns are counted in most 1st world countries, but not third world. There are other differences in definitions of what an infant death is, but in general and in a large way, 1st world countries have a much lower standard for what an infant death is.

  • The old videos are coming back into vogue because…the censors have wiped out so much of what they deemed offensive.

  • We NEED thinking people.
    This proves it.

  • Some of that data is also not comparable to data from country to country.

    The can sometimes have different criteria for things like children surviving from birth to 5 years of age. One country might not count a death within hours of actual birth as the death of a delivered child while the USA does. This difference in data reporting, and many others when it comes to health outcomes, etc. is how Cuba, @ 11:30, supposedly ranks so high in child survival from birth to age 5 while the US is lower than some countries around the world.

    However, if Cuba used the same standard as the US their results would be lower and if the US used the same standard as Cuba we would be much higher than we are. To believe that Cuba is about as high as the USA is ridiculous. The type, quality and technology that we have for babies is significantly greater than in Cuba yet they are over 99% survival from birth to 5 years? BS! They are likely ignoring many children that die being born premature or those that die within hours, days, or even weeks of birth.

  • So money = quality of life.

    This is such a childish and surface level view of things, it says nothing about culture, attitudes, IQ.

    Also, whats with the non linear axes?
    Pretty misleading id say

  • Conflating long life expectancy with child mortality.

    It's common. People in the medieval age didn't live 45 years. Instead, many died at age 1 (un named because name weren't wasted until the child reached a year) and many more died by age 12.

    If you made it past there, then your life expectancy wasn't much different than today.

  • this is what is wrong with TED talks. He compared birth rates in vietnam to birth rates in the United States. Is the United states better for not making enough babies to sustain the population? You have to be crazy.

  • The only guy Sweden does not want to look into fem stats

  • In my travels, I have learned there are no third-world countries, only third-world people.

  • When the future was the year 2015 which now is almost 4 1/2 years ago…

  • M I the only one who curious about current day data?? 7/2019

  • And they say anthropology is useless.

  • Just curious about how the total population of the world has rised in the last few hundret years. It doesnt really matter if we all will be wealthier if the planet is going to be overpopulated and there will be nothing left to eat. I hope that moder simulations of the increqsing amout of people is right and maybe somewhere around 2050 the population will begin to decreade

  • "China is appearing here, overlooking the U.S, almost like a ghost, isn't it?" 2019 yes it is, sir, yes it is.

  • Google Gapminder! These tools are still on there!

  • They said that someday a nerd will lead the way..

  • 4:15 to 5:00 very well may have been the most exciting 45 seconds of my life.

  • RIP. The world needs this man now more than ever.

  • "We don't have to go to Cuba to find a healthy country in Latin America"


  • wonderful how it shows that once you are "rich" its easy to get more money

  • TED, please find this video in your servers and re-upload it in the original quality (720p or 1080p) PLEASE…

  • Hang on was his wealth distribution graph over time adjusted for inflation?

  • this goes to prove that country of origin and( lack of ) religion play a huge part in personal human development( there are separate vids on the statistic link between "belief" and development

    it smacks you right in the face
    couple this with jordan petersons iq overlay and then you see why there is no future for africa in the general sense
    sad but true

  • I saw it in august 2019, and i really really hope the professor do another presentation… really great !

  • Everyone interested please go and read Factfulness. It's a great read

  • "You can move much faster if you're healthy first rather than wealthy first" Fascinating.

  • it's 2019 and whatever program he is using to show this information is better than anything I ever see….

  • I like how simply making more money is considered poverty reduction. Somehow inflation of the costs goods and services is irrelevant.

    Let's say you made $1/hr and a week worth of groceries cost $20 that's 20 hours for a week of food, and you are in poverty.

    Let's say you make $10/hr but a weeks worth of groceries $250.
    You make over what is considered poverty, but it takes you 5 more hours for the same amount of food.

    This applies to almost everything.

  • Is the X-Axis inflation adjusted? 12:00 . If not then you would expect the countries to move toward the right even if they had a stagnant GDP per capita simply due to CPI

  • Deutscher Titel + Beschreibung und Video auf englisch?? Youtube, das nervt langsam!!!!

  • He sounds like pewdiepie

  • Why is he even using GDP per capita? Averages, not medians. Inflation-non adjusted. Based on $ instead of PPP.

  • 9:42 c'est quoi ça pour une échelle lol xD

  • I'am a simple man, I see graphs…I press like

  • How to give 2 likes to a video?

  • One of the best TED Talks. Funny. . good data. . understandable. . really good information

  • Gdp per capita can be very misleading if a population of a million people are poor and one rich dude owns 99% of the wealth. Example, a bus has 49 people on it, average gdp per capita $50k per year. Bill Gates steps onto bus. Now average gdp per capita is something like $2billion!

  • That's a very interesting tool but i believe that very certainly most people may not understand how to use it. It's not usefull to get a representation or a view of the world; there it's kind of toxic. It's usefull for people who works in an organisation that have an help action project to target which countries & public inside will be concerned by it, and in what terms.

  • Wow I can’t believe this is 12 years old. Those infographics are awesome

  • Ah the world before the Great Recession of 2007-2008. When neo-liberalism reigned supreme and academics and politicians alike spouted on and on about the joys of globalization.

  • This guy's sense of humor is quintessential Swedish sense of humor. I love Sweden.

  • Hans Roslings presentation is not "stats" it's data analysis. I've found that when a "scientist", or anyone really, attempts to convince you something with only statistics, and not data, they are lying to you. To convince you to believe the opposite of the truth, or at the very least something that they have no evidence to support.

  • And here's a problem:
    All this massive and fast expansion of population, health and wealth iss made by possible by one thing: cheap, abundant energy called fossil fuels. And it's unsustainable – scientists say that if they're not phased out within a few years we will face catastrophic reduction of the earth carrying capacity for humans.
    And we dont know how to do that without wiping out all these gains in living standards.
    So what do we do now? 🙄

  • This is 12 years old, but judging by TRUMPS foreign policy he’s seen this.

  • Sometimes I think Youtube's neuron knows what we need to hear/see better than we do

  • in case you were wondering what software he used:


  • 12 year old vid and in comment section ppl all over world just recently commented…weird.

  • It would be interesting to have known which nations in which areas moved and which didn't and whether there were common factors.
    It took a few hundred years for the European birth rate to lower. Asia has been following the European birth trend for about 100 yrs. Has Africa or the Middle East or Latin America?
    It would be interesting to see a contemporary analysis. A decade of high birth rates may have significantly changed the population weighting.

  • Surprise, surprise that f! Africa lags the whole world (as usual)… why can’t we get it right?
    And before you moan. I’m an African.

    This talk, data and the presentation is fantastic!

  • Why and how did i get here

  • Remember when Ted had the best of best on their fields? Now they barely fact check their speakers

  • In the middle of the video, I was thinking "How can I get those data?". He answered it at the end. 🙂

  • The BMW ad seems ridiculous in that context to me.

  • I assume all countries report child mortality the same way? Because if they don't, this whole lecture falls apart.

  • So what you're saying is that all of the African countries are still third world? Seems like it to me, because they hardly moved. I'm sure it's the whitemans fault though.

  • I was expecting to be wowed by controversal data on IQ, not some Swedish cuck rambling on about bs >_>

  • Wow, this video is older than me. How come its in my recommendation?

  • 11:48 "This is Mao Zedong, he brought HEALTH to China!". Say whaaaaat?

  • How is a fact that used to be true a myth?

  • Only if my professors were this enthusiastic!!

  • This didn't age wel…

  • This guy is always trying to show that Sweeden is the best. Yeah, best in doing absolutly nothing in this world beside existing on the map.

  • People aren't using the data because they only care about their own country maybe. Infant mortality rate is tricky because healthcare could play a big factor. Also the genetics from Somalia, to Poland, to South Korea are completely different.

  • 18:00 President Trump should be aware on this

  • what kind of y-axis scaling is that… 99-99.7 has twice the scaling as 50-70

  • heuh heuh heuh xd i like this guy

  • Think about how hard that slide show would have been to make in 2003, lol

  • Age of information? Maybe Age of Desinformation..

  • That instant reply thu 😂

  • Man I miss TED talks before Trump, now it's a bunch of liberal/borderline communist nonsense including a talk which attempts to normalize pedophilia.

  • Dude no data from 1962 can be considered 'good.' Especially international data… this guy is trying to hedge his bets because his arguements and his package are weak af.

  • Before TED became inundated with SJW feminist nonsense.

  • Virgin purification ritual. Look it up all you woke little snowflakes. Keep importing third world peasants and that will become your reality as well

  • Legend, rest in peace!

  • I don’t watch videos with more than one ad. When you speak about child mortality do you include abortion? In your bell curve of income you don’t take into account the average cost of living in each country.

  • would love to see each country's freedom index added as an axis to the graphs. I suspect a very strong correlation.

  • One correction.
    Mao did not bring health to China. He mandated health to China. The methods and medicines used were developed from free market doctors and researchers in the western world.

  • Still… the same group of dots that commit the most crimes and raise the least of their children is the slowest group of dots. Do a graph of world crime without the red dots? Im curious.

  • You forget 3rd world immigration is dragging the West down.

  • Low IQ due to genetic factors. Occam's rasor.

  • Who cares about wealth and life expectencies? Here in the west the majority of men can't have a normal family life due to government and big corporations.

  • Isn't Vietnam still Communist though?

  • OH, forgot to say, that guy sure knows how to display statistics neato!

  • "Out of poverty" is not earning more than 1 Dollar a day ….

  • WHere can I get the slides used here?

  • Sometimes I like to stick my finger up my butt then smell it

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