Here are the numbers we should be looking at, as opposed to the numbers we traditionally do look at. Click on the table headers to sort by any column.
% of GDP
% of GDP
% of GDP
% of GDP
% of GDP
There’s an absolutely fascinating correlation evident between Growth and Education, but it’s not what you were likely expecting. The higher a nation’s Education, the lower its Growth rate, and vice versa. Sort by Growth and the relationship is clear.
High Growth also appears to correspond directly with low debt and lower deficits. Again, sort by Growth and the relationship is clear.
The fewer abortions you have, the more live births you must have, right? Wrong. It makes no sense but there’s an apparent correlation suggesting the fewer abortions you have, the fewer births, and the more abortions, the more births. Russia is an unusual case with an abortion number so far from norms that I’ve just discarded that finding. Ireland is also discarded due to their laws making abortion illegal and their consequent abortion rate of zero. Abortion is legal in India, but the laws and cultural taboos governing it are burdensome and make access to abortion difficult for many women. Aside from these exceptional cases, the relationship is apparent. Sort by Abortion Rate and you will see that all nations with an abortion rate over 15 also have a birth rate over 1.5. Again, it makes no sense, but it’s statistically significant.
Educated people appear to be fat. Switzerland and France are minor exceptions, but neither deviates significantly from norms. If you sort by the fat column, you will see that nations with more than 50% of the population fat or obese almost all have high levels of education. Nations over 60% fat or obese almost all number among the highest levels of education recorded. All nations under 48% fat or obese number among the lowest levels of education recorded. The data is highly indicative of a direct relationship between education levels and obesity.
The higher your prison population, the lower your murder rate, right? Also wrong. Conventional wisdom is that most of the murderers will be in jail if you have harsh sentencing laws. The actual data suggests, however, that the exact opposite is true. The more people you have in prison, the higher your murder rate, which should give pause to those who seek harsher sentencing for crime. Sort by either field, Murder Rate or Prison Population, and you’ll see that most of the greens are grouped together and most of the reds are grouped together. Ireland, Spain and the UK are minor exceptions, although their deviance from norms isn’t significant. India is a significant exception, although their lower level of development may explain their low incarceration rate. Overall, the data suggests that the more people you keep in prison, the higher your murder rate will be.
Unsurprisingly, the lower your annual deficit is, the lower your overall debt will usually be. Australia and Italy are minor exceptions, but generally speaking, and in line with common sense, if you keep your annual deficit in order, your overall debt will follow in order, and if you don’t, it won’t.
There appears to be a clear lower limit to what you can spend on health care before it starts affecting your life expectancy. Nations spending between 8.3% and 11.2% of GDP have the best life expectancies, with nations below that range having much worse life expectancies. Interestingly, spending more than 11.2% doesn’t seem to help, as the United States spends 15.2% with below-average results, although still much better than the nations spending under 8.3%.
There may be a relationship between education and life expectancy, although it is not clear. The three lowest education indexes (India, China and Russia, all below 0.936) also have the three lowest life expectancy numbers. Strangely, the two highest life expectancies are found in nations (Japan and Switzerland) which have fairly low education indexes, although still at or above 0.936. This suggests that there may be a lower limit of education below which life expectancy becomes affected. This apparent relationship could be coincidental, as nations that spend more on health care also tend to have higher education indexes.
Sources and Notes
Debt/GDP is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the CIA World Factbook.
Growth/GDP is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the CIA World Factbook and Eurostat.
2012 Deficit/GDP is sourced from the OECD from their 2012 update. This update includes historical data back to 2006 and projections to 2013. Data for China was found here. Data for Russia was found here. Data for India was found here.
Tax/GDP is sourced from Wikipedia using data from the Heritage Foundation. This number represents the sum of all tax revenue, regardless of source, as a percentage of GDP. I have ranked numbers below 30 as red (too low) and above 40 as red (too high), but have made exceptions for Switzerland (disproportionately large financial sector) and China (developing economy).
Births/Woman is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the UN, CIA and the World Bank. I’ve used UN data for this table.
Abortion Rate refers to the number of abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 per year, sourced from the United Nations Statistics Division. Note that abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland unless the life of the mother is at risk.
Fat percentage refers to people with a BMI over 25 and is sourced from the World Health Organization.
Health care spending is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Life Expectancy is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the United Nations.
Unemployment is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the CIA World Factbook.
Education Index is measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting). The data is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the United Nations Statistics Division.
Cigarettes per person refers to the total number of cigarettes consumed per year divided by the number of adults in that nation. Data is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the CIA World Factbook.
Suicide rate refers to the number of suicides per 100,000 people per year. Suicide data is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Murder rate refers to the number of intentional homicides per 100,000 people per year. Homicide data is sourced from Wikipedia using numbers from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Prison population refers to the number of prisoners per 100,000 people. Prisoner data is sourced from The International Centre for Prison Studies.