health, wealth, and history

The economist blog hosts a great video by Hans Rosling on health and wealth by country over time:

The data visualization and interpretation are excellent. However, the conclusion he draws–that “everyone can make it” in the future, that all countries are moving toward the “healthy, wealthy” corner–strikes me as very problematic for two reasons. Reason one is actually statistical: the slope remains pretty substantial as time goes on, it’s just that the intercept is moving upward. So inequalities by health and wealth seem likely to persist. Reason two is more sociological: he doesn’t mention threats to health and equality such as agricultural threats, ecological threats, or global underemployment.


Author: andrewperrin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

One thought on “health, wealth, and history”

  1. And that is why you’re a sociologist. Economists know better–wave hands, talk about marginal product being paid as if it were more real than a hippogriff, point to when the rising tide lifted all, or even most, boats (good luck finding that one), and voila!


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