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Hans Rosling on World Poverty and Public Statistics.

  1. Aug 12, 2007 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2007 #2

    russ_watters

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    Great vid. Surprising from a Swede, but he does a great job of debunking the popular myths about economic inequality in developed countries (among other popular myths).
     
  4. Sep 17, 2007 #3

    EL

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    Speaking of debunking popular myths...

    I'm just curious, what of his statements do you find "surprising from a Swede"? (And why do you find it surprising?)
     
  5. Sep 17, 2007 #4

    Art

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    It is strange that he says one thing whilst presenting graphs that say something entirely different. For example he claims the gap between rich and poor is a myth whilst presenting a graph showing the top 20% have 74% of the world's income whilst the bottom 20% have just 2%. He also presents data showing the same spread of inequality within individual countries and yet you claim this proves income inequality is a myth?? Duh!!!

    As he describes it he seems to be taking the word gap as a literal concept i.e.'a gap meaning nobody falling between the 2 extremes' in order to justify his comments "that there is no income gap as there are people all the way" which is either a cynical act of distorting the language and the meaning of the term 'gap' as used in common parlance when speaking of income inequality or an act of gross stupidity. Only a fool would imagine that the income gap refers to the absence of people in the income bracket between the 2 extremes. The gap refers to the delta between the top and the bottom.

    He also uses a logarithmic scale to make the picture a better fit to his words in a further example of artful manipulation.

    Then again he was promoting his own software so he obviously needed a few headline quotes to generate interest from potential buyers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2007
  6. Sep 17, 2007 #5
    In a simple linear wealth distribution of 100 people (where the poorest person has 1 unit of wealth, the next poorest 2 units and on up to the richest person with 100 units) the top 20% owns nearly 36% of the wealth while the bottom 20% claims just over 4%. This disparity decreases the more trapezoidal the income distribution becomes, i.e. a graph of y=.1x + 10 rather than y=x.

    I suspect that a lot of people are shocked or upset when they hear that the richest 10% possess more than 10% of the total wealth. It's one of those realities that sounds wrong, but after 10 minutes of scrutiny of some simple wealth distributions, it makes some sense. In fact, all but the strictest wealth distribution models concentrate wealth in the upper percentiles. That's just the way that it works as long as there is enough stratification to see the percentiles.

    I also believe the public is done a disservice when a TV program notes how people in X country or Y village subsist on fifty cents a day. The same program never tells the public that staple items like food and clothing are also very inexpensive (relative to the developed world) in those places. The reason why a farmer earns only fifty cents a day is the same reason why the locals can afford his produce. A woman may earn only pennies from a blanket she wove, but that will easily buy dinner. If everyone is poor, everyone has to sell his/her goods and services for very little for anyone to afford them. The result is a village where the inhabitants earn enough money to buy what they need. The reason why the villagers are considered "poor" is because they can't take commerce anywhere past the local level. Fifty cents may support a villager and his family, but that money will not buy any modern things like electric appliances or motorized farm equipment from the international marketplace. Famines, civil war and other disasters complicate things, but they don't disprove the feasibility of the model I described above.
     
  7. Sep 17, 2007 #6

    russ_watters

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    Sweden is supposed to be the socialism poster-child. That makes it surprising to find a prominant Swede debunking Socialist myths.
     
  8. Sep 17, 2007 #7

    russ_watters

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    The explanation is very straightforward (the animation of China's, especially), but you still didn't understand it. Sorry, I can't help you with it. Things that are so straightforward can have no explanation.
     
  9. Sep 17, 2007 #8

    russ_watters

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    Yes. That is modern liberalism in a nutshell. It is just about what sounds good or bad in a person's head and has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of what really works or doesn't.
     
  10. Sep 18, 2007 #9

    Gokul43201

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    I too have a bone to pick with the line about there being "no gap". The data clearly shows that the wealth distribution is bimodal (and will stay that way for the next couple or so decades). And that makes a pretty strong case that the total distribution is a superposition of unimodals, with initial conditions playing a strong role. That's essentially direct evidence for what is commonly refered to as a gap in wealth.

    What the time evolution does show, however, is that contrary to the common rant that the gap is widening, it in fact is not (at least globally).
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2007
  11. Sep 18, 2007 #10

    EL

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    Ok, before I go into this, could you please define what you mean by socialism? (There seems to be a lot of different definitions.)
    Is high taxes enough? Is publicly owned enterprises part of the definition?
    Simply: why would you call Sweden a socialistic state?
    (Do you really know wheter Sweden is socialistic or not?)

    Could you please give an example of a statement you found surprising?
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2007
  12. Sep 18, 2007 #11
    I can't speak for Russ, but I got this from the wiki page

    Politics of Sweden

    And yet, officially, Sweden is a monarchy. Weird, huh?

    I don't know the definition of 'socialist state', but that 'government expenditure of slightly more than 50% of the gross domestic product' suggests itself to me as a candidate. In Sweden, the government isn't the result of a palace revolution, the people vote their government in. I think it's reasonable to point out the disparity between Dr. Rosling's views and those of his compatriots.
     
  13. Sep 18, 2007 #12

    Art

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    Explain how the top 20% of the pop taking 74% of the world's income whilst the bottom 20% of the population taking 2% of the world's income translates in your brain into "no income inequality"

    Hint - Look up the definition of inequality.
     
  14. Sep 18, 2007 #13
    It is clear from his talk that he meant there was 'no population gap' between rich and poor. Of course he didn't mean there was 'no income gap' between rich and poor, how could he? If you listen again and watch the animation you will see that whereas in the past there was a huge population hump below the poverty line, that hump has now moved to the middle.
     
  15. Sep 18, 2007 #14

    EL

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    :smile: Yeah. Luckily the King is without power...(Actually his not even allowed to vote.)

    I always thought "socialism" had to do with the economic system itself (i.e. planar/market economy, wheter enterprises are owned publicly or private, and so on).

    And, again, what disparity between Rosling's and an "average Swede's" views are we talking about. Please give me an example.
     
  16. Sep 18, 2007 #15

    Art

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    He stated that the income gap between rich and poor was a myth which is what grabbed the headlines. You seem to agree with me this was a nonsensical statement.

    As for the large shift to the middle; as I've said already this illusion was created through some clever use of a non-scalar/logarithmic x-axis which negates it's spatial existence.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  17. Sep 18, 2007 #16
    Sorry, I should have been more precise. Also, I can't speak for Russ, but only for myself. The disparity is between my personal take on Rosling's views on the one hand, and my personal take on the views of the majority of Swede's on the other hand. As Russ said, I see Sweden as the poster child for socialism and I see Rosling as taking on some of socialism's myths. I took that wording from Russ. If you don't see Sweden as socialist, or Rosling as taking on it's myths, then you don't see the disparity.

    As for what the average Swede's views are I can't say. As I pointed out in my last post, but failed to emphasize, the government there is popular, so I assume that the people are as socialist as the government is. It's all the last paragraph.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2007
  18. Sep 18, 2007 #17

    EL

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    And this is the myth I wanted to highlight (as I'm pretty sick of the existing confusion about the Swedish political system.).
    It seems like many americans have got the impression Sweden is socialistic. (Of course this could be a matter of definition, but if you'd like to call Sweden "socialistic", then about all west European countries are so too.)
    This topic has been discussed before, where I showed statistics proving how "unsocialistic" Sweden is. Yes we have pretty high taxes (of which much goes into free healthcare and support for unemployed and sick-listed people,), but that's about it.

    What may be confusing is that the "Social democrats" is not a socialistic party (according to my definition of socialism).

    I'm just curious what socialist myths Rosling is taking on?

    Maybe Rosling is taking on some socialists myth (I'm simply just asking for an example), but my impression is that he is definitley not saying anything which goes against "typical Swedish opinions".

    Well, governments are actually never popular in Sweden. (We're not much for "sticking up for our government", but rather like to criticize them.) But yes, the people are probably as unsocialistic as the government is.
     
  19. Sep 18, 2007 #18
    Hammer, meet Nailhead.

    I figured your personal views were different from mine.

    That the only valid thing that rich people can do with money is to give it to poor ones.
    No, seriously, he said something negative about the top giving money to the bottom, I forget his exact wording.

    How come no one will give the American people the benefit of that doubt. So the welfare state is imposed on Sweden from without? Actually, it's that 50% figure that I find socialist. For that matter, the US figure is around 38% I think, though I can't verify it just now. In that sense the US is much too socialist for my taste. Too much of the money comes from the middle class and goes to the middle class. If we just gutted the middle class programs, and reduced the taxes by the same amount, we'd be better off.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2007
  20. Sep 19, 2007 #19
    Perhaps this chart will help. I couldn't manage to find the statistics on the OECD site, but I'm sure they exist.
     
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