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Monday, February 13, 2006

fun with data

Nationmaster.com has an oustanding database of information for countries of the world. I have no idea about the accuracy of it, but let's see what the data tells us...

economic freedom is mostly where you'd expect. But spendthrift governments are topped by Palistinians, the various tiny colonies that live on a rock in the middle of the ocean, and the socialist countries.

Most of our imports are from Canada. But China has surpassed Japan (and maybe even Mexico by now).

If you compare GDP per capita at different times, it tells quite a story. 1820, 1900, 1950, 1973, 2005. US not shown is #2 with 40,100. #1 Luxembourg is sometimes called a very large bank with its own airport.

But a better economic measure is purchasing power, like the average number of hours worked to buy a TV, or a chicken.

Someone was saying recently how the informal economy of a country is not very productive, but pays no taxes. So when the tax rate and reglations of a country are very high, the cost differential between formal and informal businesses causes the much more highly productive formal businesses to never get a foothold. Thus, the country remains unproductive and the economy never takes off.

Brits and their offshoots like amphetimines, while the Irish and Germans like their beer, and the Australians and New Zealanders smoke pot. Scandanavians drink coffee, Western Europeans drink bottled water, but of course Italians and French like wine. English like tea, and Americans just like Coke and Pepsi. All of Western Europe drinks a lot of alcohol.

Russia is by far the abortion capital of the world, followed distantly by the US, India, Japan, and Western Europe. People in the US die from car crashes and teenage girls get pregnant 10 times more often than in Japan.

The Americans and Irish are proud of their nationality. The Japanese and Germans are not (along with a lot of Western Europe). But when you look at the politically far right, the the right wing conspiracy is in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, etc. The far left are in Africa and Israel. Scanidavians don't trust people. In Western Europe they demonstrate a lot. But it's the Americans/Australians/English/Swedes who sign petitions. And the Australians/Americans join charities and the Americans are active in political parties. Of course the top four countries that are willing to fight for their country are in Europe.. ok, Scandanavia. I can just imagine the Swedish chef on the battlefield. The French are delusional.

What kind of neighbors do people dislike? Americans/Irish/Japanese don't like criminals but the French and Swiss like them. Japanese and Americans especially don't like drug addicts. The French and Swiss do. The Japanese especially don't like emotionally unstable people. The French and Swiss do. Who hates immigrants? Belgium, Austria, Japan, Norway, and finally we found someone the French don't like. And who are the racists? Belgium, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, and... France! And the Swiss don't like people with AIDS. The Japanese really don't like homosexuals. But then neither does Austria or Italy. The Japanese also don't like political extremists.

So if you're an emotionally unstable, homosexual, political extremist, drug addict, don't move to Japan. But smoking is ok.

Indians and Americans attend movies, but only Indians read newspapers. Chinese watch television and have cellphones, but Russia has more broadcast TV stations. Public funding of TV broadcasting is mostly in the "nanny states"

More than 1/3 of the adults in Botswana have AIDS.

Americans [not shown anymore] are fat (Japanese are not, except maybe sumo wrestlers).

Surprise, the most murderous country is Colombia. And also South Africa. But Jamaica? The US isn't shown, but would be #2 with 0.4. And, yes of course we believe you, Saudi Arabia, with zero. Life expectancy is no surprise: Only the sub-saharan Africans and Afghanistanis die young.

When it comes to happiness, I think Venezuela and Nigeria are lying. Eastern Europe is the unhappiness capital. They have the suicides to back it up. But Western Europe wasn't very happy either.

New citizenships are overwhelmingly in the US, but Canada accepts the largest percentage.
Total tax per single worker shows the "nanny states" which typically overtax their poor people who end up with the least choices. Of course the really poor countries are the screwed up places of the world. And then there's corruption.
The percentage of 20 year olds in college shows us where the educated people will be in the future (why Greece?) vs where they are now.

Where the catholics are and catholic density is no surprise, especially in China where they really try to stamp it out.
Church attendence puts Nigeria as #1, which doesn't surprise me all that much. The US and Ireland are confident in their churches.
The Jews are mostly in the US and Israel. The Chinese (outside of China) are all over Southeast Asia and the US/Canda.
See where the kids are Gaza strip is like Lord of the Flies. Subsaharan Africa has a lot of kids because the adults die off.
The Japanese are confident in the press. The US numbers may seem high, but this was in the 1990s.

age of first marriage for women
divorce rate birth rate death rate
percent rural population
armed forces personnel
arms imports
military expenditures, percentage of GDP (check out North Korea)

...and Iraq has a lot of oil. If they were to use the oil revenue to bootstrap their economy, given the huge number of educated professionals in the country, they could become an economic powerhouse. Here's a suggestion: use the money to create a tax rate of zero and bake that into the constitution (taxes shall remain at zero until the oil runs out). No taxes for anyone, including businesses. If this were adopted along with strong rule of law, strong property rights, and the necessary amount of regulation to ensure a fair playing field, they could become a gigantic financial and industrial center, and a beacon to all the people suffering under two-bit dictatorships in the region.

UPDATE next day:
Now how about stupid data. If you look at child poverty, you'll see the US is very high on the list. I knew that was totally wrong, so I looked at the definition. It's defined as "the share of the children [in that country] living in the households with income below 50% of the national median."

Think about that for a second. By this definition, any child born into a family with income in the lower half of that country is automatically in poverty. So what they're saying is that only the richest half of the people in any country should be having children. They also assume that half the people in every country are poor regardless of whether you're in Luxembourg or Haiti. And, in my opinion, poverty has a lot more to do with behavior and habits than money.

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