Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Growth and Development Visuals

I love using visuals in our class. Not only because a picture is worth a thousand words, but because our job as economists is to make observation and to try to explore and explain those observations. Visuals make observations easier.

My two favorite sites are the chart feature at and Our World in Data

On the Gapminder site, you can change the variables of analysis by clicking on the down arrow next to the variable name and choosing new variables from the various categories. Be sure to use the time feature at the bottom of the scatter plot. Gapminder has tons of other great stuff including maps and TED talks, so be sure to explore the whole site.

The Our World in Data site is also pretty amazing. Be sure to scroll down on the main page to see the numerous topics that are covered.

Below are some additional visuals and sites that we used in class. 

Here is a world map showing nations economic status according to the World Bank Income Classification scheme (caution, big file)

Easy exchange rate calculations here at 

Read about The UN Millennium Development goals here

Read about the UN Sustainable Development goals here 

Here is a map of several development indices from The United Nations Development Program

This is a nice graphic showing the composition of different development indices

Here is a list of HDI values by country from the UN

The US Census Bureau has a detailed map showing poverty in the US

Data and graphs pertaining to population growth can be found at the World Bank

The world population clock is fun

The UN gives us populations projections by country

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has a great article (with visuals) on the Internal Rate of Return to Education and the College Wage Premium 

National Geographic shows us what the world eats (note the time scroll at the bottom) has a cool visual showing the world's shipping routes

Metrocosm has an amazing visual showing two centuries of immigration to the US

Slate has a visual showing over 300 years of slave trade.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute has good data on SWFs all over the world

The Atlas of Economic Complexity from The Center for International Development at Harvard University has some great visuals, including the composition of exports and imports by country

Here is the World Conflict Map from the Council on Foreign Relations

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth

Here is a link to an empirical analysis of income inequality and economic growth by Federico Cingano of OECD.

One of the main takeaways is that higher inequality (higher Gini coefficient or higher Palma ratio) results in less investment in education by households in the poorest quintiles (poorest 40% of the population), which results in less economic growth.  The study also finds that increases in the incomes of the richest households has no effect on economic growth and that redistribution policies (higher taxes for the rich and transfers to the poor) need not have an adverse impact on economic growth.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Joseph Stiglitz

We're discussing inequality in class these days, so we should learn about Joseph Stiglitz.

Here is a 2016 interview with Stiglitz at The Atlantic, where he discusses inequality, the Fed, candidates for president and economists.

Here is a short 2015 article at the Huffington Post about inequality.

Here is a short video of Stiglitz at the Ford Foundation.

Inequality, Superstars and economic growth

Here is a great article from the NYT (published in 2010) that outlines a lot of the issues we are discussing in class. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

MDGs and SDGs

Here are links to information about the UN's Milineum Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Read about MDG progress:

HDI and other development indices

Below are the links we used in class pertaining to the Human Development Index (HDI), the Inequality-Adjusted HDI, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

HDI map

HDI calculator

Gapminder plot:  HDI and per capita GDP (PPP)




Technical notes on these indices (good graphic)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Big Mac Index

The Big Mac Index (created by The Economist magazine in the 1980s) allows us to compare local prices for a single good which is sold all over the world. We should recognize that this measure is mostly for fun. The price of a single good (a burger) is not a great proxy of general purchasing power of non-tradable goods.