New insights on poverty | Hans Rosling

I told you three things last year. I told you that the statistics of the world have not been made properly available. Because of that, we still have the old mindset of developing in industrialized countries, which is wrong. And that animated graphics can make a difference. Things are changing and today, on the United Nations Statistic Division Home Page, it says, by first of May, full access to the databases. (Applause) And if I could share the image with you on the screen. So three things have happened. U.N. opened their statistic databases, and we have a new version of the software up working as a beta on the net, so you don’t have to download it any longer. And let me repeat what you saw last year. The bubbles are the countries. Here you have the fertility rate — the number of children per woman — and there you have the length of life in years. This is 1950 — those were the industrialized countries, those were developing countries. At that time there was a “we” and “them.” There was a huge difference in the world. But then it changed, and it went on quite well. And this is what happens. You can see how China is the red, big bubble. The blue there is India. And they go over all this — I’m going to try to be a little more serious this year in showing you how things really changed. And it’s Africa that stands out as the problem down here, doesn’t it? Large families still, and the HIV epidemic brought down the countries like this. This is more or less what we saw last year, and this is how it will go on into the future. And I will talk on, is this possible? Because you see now, I presented statistics that don’t exist. Because this is where we are. Will it be possible that this will happen? I cover my lifetime here, you know? I expect to live 100 years. And this is where we are today. Now could we look here instead at the economic situation in the world? And I would like to show that against child survival. We’ll swap the axis. Here you have child mortality — that is, survival — four kids dying there, 200 dying there. And this is GDP per capita on this axis. And this was 2007. And if I go back in time, I’ve added some historical statistics — here we go, here we go, here we go — not so much statistics 100 years ago. Some countries still had statistics. We are looking down in the archive, and when we are down into 1820, there is only Austria and Sweden that can produce numbers. (Laughter) But they were down here. They had 1,000 dollars per person per year. And they lost one-fifth of their kids before their first birthday. So this is what happens in the world, if we play the entire world. How they got slowly richer and richer, and they add statistics. Isn’t it beautiful when they get statistics? You see the importance of that? And here, children don’t live longer. The last century, 1870, was bad for the kids in Europe, because most of this statistics is Europe. It was only by the turn of the century that more than 90 percent of the children survived their first year. This is India coming up, with the first data from India. And this is the United States moving away here, earning more money. And we will soon see China coming up in the very far end corner here. And it moves up with Mao Tse-Tung getting health, not getting so rich. There he died, then Deng Xiaoping brings money. It moves this way over here. And the bubbles keep moving up there, and this is what the world looks like today. (Applause) Let us have a look at the United States. We have a function here — I can tell the world, “Stay where you are.” And I take the United States — we still want to see the background — I put them up like this, and now we go backwards. And we can see that the United States goes to the right of the mainstream. They are on the money side all the time. And down in 1915, the United States was a neighbor of India — present, contemporary India. And that means United States was richer, but lost more kids than India is doing today, proportionally. And look here — compare to the Philippines of today. The Philippines of today has almost the same economy as the United States during the First World War. But we have to bring United States forward quite a while to find the same health of the United States as we have in the Philippines. About 1957 here, the health of the United States is the same as the Philippines. And this is the drama of this world which many call globalized, is that Asia, Arabic countries, Latin America, are much more ahead in being healthy, educated, having human resources than they are economically. There’s a discrepancy in what’s happening today in the emerging economies. There now, social benefits, social progress, are going ahead of economical progress. And 1957 — the United States had the same economy as Chile has today. And how long do we have to bring United States to get the same health as Chile has today? I think we have to go, there — we have 2001, or 2002 — the United States has the same health as Chile. Chile’s catching up! Within some years Chile may have better child survival than the United States. This is really a change, that you have this lag of more or less 30, 40 years’ difference on the health. And behind the health is the educational level. And there’s a lot of infrastructure things, and general human resources are there. Now we can take away this — and I would like to show you the rate of speed, the rate of change, how fast they have gone. And we go back to 1920, and I want to look at Japan. And I want to look at Sweden and the United States. And I’m going to stage a race here between this sort of yellowish Ford here and the red Toyota down there, and the brownish Volvo. (Laughter) And here we go. Here we go. The Toyota has a very bad start down here, you can see, and the United States Ford is going off-road there. And the Volvo is doing quite fine. This is the war. The Toyota got off track, and now the Toyota is coming on the healthier side of Sweden — can you see that? And they are taking over Sweden, and they are now healthier than Sweden. That’s the part where I sold the Volvo and bought the Toyota. (Laughter) And now we can see that the rate of change was enormous in Japan. They really caught up. And this changes gradually. We have to look over generations to understand it. And let me show you my own sort of family history — we made these graphs here. And this is the same thing, money down there, and health, you know? And this is my family. This is Sweden, 1830, when my great-great-grandma was born. Sweden was like Sierra Leone today. And this is when great-grandma was born, 1863. And Sweden was like Mozambique. And this is when my grandma was born, 1891. She took care of me as a child, so I’m not talking about statistic now — now it’s oral history in my family. That’s when I believe statistics, when it’s grandma-verified statistics. (Laughter) I think it’s the best way of verifying historical statistics. Sweden was like Ghana. It’s interesting to see the enormous diversity within sub-Saharan Africa. I told you last year, I’ll tell you again, my mother was born in Egypt, and I — who am I? I’m the Mexican in the family. And my daughter, she was born in Chile, and the grand-daughter was born in Singapore, now the healthiest country on this Earth. It bypassed Sweden about two to three years ago, with better child survival. But they’re very small, you know? They’re so close to the hospital we can never beat them out in these forests. (Laughter) But homage to Singapore. Singapore is the best one. Now this looks also like a very good story. But it’s not really that easy, that it’s all a good story. Because I have to show you one of the other facilities. We can also make the color here represent the variable — and what am I choosing here? Carbon-dioxide emission, metric ton per capita. This is 1962, and United States was emitting 16 tons per person. And China was emitting 0.6, and India was emitting 0.32 tons per capita. And what happens when we moved on? Well, you see the nice story of getting richer and getting healthier — everyone did it at the cost of emission of carbon dioxide. There is no one who has done it so far. And we don’t have all the updated data any longer, because this is really hot data today. And there we are, 2001. And in the discussion I attended with global leaders, you know, many say now the problem is that the emerging economies, they are getting out too much carbon dioxide. The Minister of the Environment of India said, “Well, you were the one who caused the problem.” The OECD countries — the high-income countries — they were the ones who caused the climate change. “But we forgive you, because you didn’t know it. But from now on, we count per capita. From now on we count per capita. And everyone is responsible for the per capita emission.” This really shows you, we have not seen good economic and health progress anywhere in the world without destroying the climate. And this is really what has to be changed. I’ve been criticized for showing you a too positive image of the world, but I don’t think it’s like this. The world is quite a messy place. This we can call Dollar Street. Everyone lives on this street here. What they earn here — what number they live on — is how much they earn per day. This family earns about one dollar per day. We drive up the street here, we find a family here which earns about two to three dollars a day. And we drive away here — we find the first garden in the street, and they earn 10 to 50 dollars a day. And how do they live? If we look at the bed here, we can see that they sleep on a rug on the floor. This is what poverty line is — 80 percent of the family income is just to cover the energy needs, the food for the day. This is two to five dollars. You have a bed. And here it’s a much nicer bedroom, you can see. I lectured on this for Ikea, and they wanted to see the sofa immediately here. (Laughter) And this is the sofa, how it will emerge from there. And the interesting thing, when you go around here in the photo panorama, you see the family still sitting on the floor there. Although there is a sofa, if you watch in the kitchen, you can see that the great difference for women does not come between one to 10 dollars. It comes beyond here, when you really can get good working conditions in the family. And if you really want to see the difference, you look at the toilet over here. This can change. This can change. These are all pictures and images from Africa, and it can become much better. We can get out of poverty. My own research has not been in IT or anything like this. I spent 20 years in interviews with African farmers who were on the verge of famine. And this is the result of the farmers-needs research. The nice thing here is that you can’t see who are the researchers in this picture. That’s when research functions in poor societies — you must really live with the people. When you’re in poverty, everything is about survival. It’s about having food. And these two young farmers, they are girls now — because the parents are dead from HIV and AIDS — they discuss with a trained agronomist. This is one of the best agronomists in Malawi, Junatambe Kumbira, and he’s discussing what sort of cassava they will plant — the best converter of sunshine to food that man has found. And they are very, very eagerly interested to get advice, and that’s to survive in poverty. That’s one context. Getting out of poverty. The women told us one thing. “Get us technology. We hate this mortar, to stand hours and hours. Get us a mill so that we can mill our flour, then we will be able to pay for the rest ourselves.” Technology will bring you out of poverty, but there’s a need for a market to get away from poverty. And this woman is very happy now, bringing her products to the market. But she’s very thankful for the public investment in schooling so she can count, and won’t be cheated when she reaches the market. She wants her kid to be healthy, so she can go to the market and doesn’t have to stay home. And she wants the infrastructure — it is nice with a paved road. It’s also good with credit. Micro-credits gave her the bicycle, you know. And information will tell her when to go to market with which product. You can do this. I find my experience from 20 years of Africa is that the seemingly impossible is possible. Africa has not done bad. In 50 years they’ve gone from a pre-Medieval situation to a very decent 100-year-ago Europe, with a functioning nation and state. I would say that sub-Saharan Africa has done best in the world during the last 50 years. Because we don’t consider where they came from. It’s this stupid concept of developing countries that puts us, Argentina and Mozambique together 50 years ago, and says that Mozambique did worse. We have to know a little more about the world. I have a neighbor who knows 200 types of wine. He knows everything. He knows the name of the grape, the temperature and everything. I only know two types of wine — red and white. (Laughter) But my neighbor only knows two types of countries — industrialized and developing. And I know 200, I know about the small data. But you can do that. (Applause) But I have to get serious. And how do you get serious? You make a PowerPoint, you know? (Laughter) Homage to the Office package, no? What is this, what is this, what am I telling? I’m telling you that there are many dimensions of development. Everyone wants your pet thing. If you are in the corporate sector, you love micro-credit. If you are fighting in a non-governmental organization, you love equity between gender. Or if you are a teacher, you’ll love UNESCO, and so on. On the global level, we have to have more than our own thing. We need everything. All these things are important for development, especially when you just get out of poverty and you should go towards welfare. Now, what we need to think about is, what is a goal for development, and what are the means for development? Let me first grade what are the most important means. Economic growth to me, as a public-health professor, is the most important thing for development because it explains 80 percent of survival. Governance. To have a government which functions — that’s what brought California out of the misery of 1850. It was the government that made law function finally. Education, human resources are important. Health is also important, but not that much as a mean. Environment is important. Human rights is also important, but it just gets one cross. Now what about goals? Where are we going toward? We are not interested in money. Money is not a goal. It’s the best mean, but I give it zero as a goal. Governance, well it’s fun to vote in a little thing, but it’s not a goal. And going to school, that’s not a goal, it’s a mean. Health I give two points. I mean it’s nice to be healthy — at my age especially — you can stand here, you’re healthy. And that’s good, it gets two plusses. Environment is very, very crucial. There’s nothing for the grandkid if you don’t save up. But where are the important goals? Of course, it’s human rights. Human rights is the goal, but it’s not that strong of a mean for achieving development. And culture. Culture is the most important thing, I would say, because that’s what brings joy to life. That’s the value of living. So the seemingly impossible is possible. Even African countries can achieve this. And I’ve shown you the shot where the seemingly impossible is possible. And remember, please remember my main message, which is this: the seemingly impossible is possible. We can have a good world. I showed you the shots, I proved it in the PowerPoint, and I think I will convince you also by culture. (Laughter) (Applause) Bring me my sword! Sword swallowing is from ancient India. It’s a cultural expression that for thousands of years has inspired human beings to think beyond the obvious. (Laughter) And I will now prove to you that the seemingly impossible is possible by taking this piece of steel — solid steel — this is the army bayonet from the Swedish Army, 1850, in the last year we had war. And it’s all solid steel — you can hear here. And I’m going to take this blade of steel, and push it down through my body of blood and flesh, and prove to you that the seemingly impossible is possible. Can I request a moment of absolute silence? (Applause)

  1. @jcgalad Very rarely do you prove something with only statistics since measurable objectives can have very complex causul explanations. Perhaps he shouldn't jump to such euphoric conclusions yet and remove his shirt and all…..

  2. @labonka he's not making that assumption. the only assumption made would be that economic growth does increase over time. of course there could be a world war 3 that brings the whole world to a stop but if you are making those sort of assumptions you might as well just say fuck all and do nothing.

  3. @noiserrr You know there's no way to predict economy, that's just impossible. So he might just as well say that his lottery ticket will make everyone rich. That the world develops is of course good, but his calculations are just euphoric.

  4. @noiserrr Imagine I went to a company and started to say that this company will develop 2% every year for the next 50 years and then rip off my shirt because I am so happy of my "proofs". Everyone would ask what the heck are you on about? He is manic.

  5. He should have been a salesman because he is very convincing naturally it's quite simplistic. Like Murphy said "If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something"

  6. I am using the gapminder website but I can't recreate the part (from 4:25) where he has one country (US) moving through time but the rest of the world remain in place. How do I do that?

  7. @rurede4dis It was an argument for his theory. He said that the seamingly (sorry for bad english) possible is possible. That means that just because you havn't seen it, it doesn't have to be impossible. Just because you havn't seen a man swallow a sword, doesn't mean it's impossible to do so. In other words, he is saying that we can change the world, even though it looks pretty bad.

  8. @putakvospariucrlhs

    Your comment was made 1 year ago so if you are still around…where did you get your statistics and other information?

  9. I'm from a so called emerging country, Brazil. If you check the HDI of my country today, it's not very diffrent from an average european country forty years ago.
    The world is getting better as a whole. And if we find a way to replace fossil fuels, and we don't get in stupid, endless wars, it will continue to do so.

  10. Check out Gapminder (dot) com this guy's website. They give you acess to all of these interactive graphics, it's fantastic!

  11. Quite a good insight… economic power is the means but not the goal… But sadly, most of the ones power… sees these as the both the goal and means because of their greed and desire of maintaining the status quo… They better listen to this man, he's got a point…

  12. He tells amazing things, really inmportant and intelligent and people are like 'ok' but the moment this man swallows a blade everyone is like OMG LOOK AT THAT.

    O well, Hans Rosling is amazing.

  13. I am a TED fanatic – and have on my youtube channel – in personal order after watching well over 700+!!! of them – my top 2 playlists with a great running order… there is also a carl sagan complete playlist, arthur c clarke and loads of other hand picked documentaries and debates and art and cultural videos… click on my user name, MrDespo3, have a look round and welcome to despo television & please subscribe and vibe!

  14. I have watched dozens of these TED Talks and this guy makes sense with his data. I realize that you can do anything you want with data, but when you look at the world, this is what you see, just not graphically represented. We need to get over egocentrism, the world is closing in.

  15. These are great stats 😀 does anyone know the website he used there so I can cite it in my own academic papers?? thanks!

  16. This is brilliant..

    Normally I can find a fault to argue on anything; but this guy has his shit wrapped up tighter then a vacuum sealed brick of BC Bud…

  17. Listen up to this guy everyone. His research is the ground work for developing methods of bringing the wealthy and the poor together and creating a system of greater equality and higher quality of life for all!

  18. Sure, science and knowledge is a good groundwork for developing these concepts but his ideas use science and knowledge to explain exactly how and why it needs to be done.

  19. Calling Brazil social democrat is a kinda exaggerated compliment 🙂
    We've been heading towards this direction in the last 10-15 years, but income inequality here is still bigger than in the US, unfortunately. Hopefully, we will manage to economic progress and equality, to some extent, in the next decades.
    Are you from Turkey? I heard that economy is booming there!

  20. You make a good point. Is it sensible to represent the USA only one bubble when it's clear that the society is better represented economically by two separate bubbles? Averages mean little whenever the underlying distribution is bimodal.

  21. The rich get richer, and the poor get richer too. My father grew up in the 40's, and then poverty was poverty, where the health risks were exposure, lack of vaccinations, malnutrition, and exhaustion from overwork. Now the five biggest health risks to America's "poor" are ALL obesity & smoking related diseases and child vaccinations are often provided free at government schools. Today's average poor family has housing, refrigerator, stove, air con, heating, TV's, cell phones, etc.

  22. Yes I think the term is relative poverty.Obesity and smoking is more prominent amongst those with very low incomes but I think people on relatively good incomes also have these problems.A global ban on smoking/tobacco products would help people in the Western societies and since the tobacco companies are actively targeting people in developing/third world countries,and aiming their campaigns specifically at younger people a global ban would make the world a healthier place.

  23. 2:10. It is possible. 214535 + people just had it visualized for them. Show 2 friends. It won't be completely level, but it can fit in the top left corner.
    14:40. Now I want to see the happy scale. Betcha the highest happiness levels come before a country gets to the point of being able to afford obesity and substance abuse problems. Can you show us how to STOP developing too?
    AH! Way to end it!

  24. yeh he's awesome & i couldn't help but watch his other TED lectures, really fantastic stuff. but i disagree that 'human rights', 'education' & 'environment' aren't as much a 'means' as "economic growth" for the goal of 'culture'. i think that part of the lecture was bullshit. also, why does he think 'education' is just a means & not a goal? it can be, & should be, a lifelong journey, not just a destination for a graduate certificate. & how is 'environment' not a goal?! think of its definition!

  25. Hey, kid, we used to have an institution that told us we were all evil and that we should go around and beat up on ourselves, rending our clothing, that we sucked, and we weren't worth shit. It was called the Church. And they kept the world thinking misery, misery, misery. The farther we've gotten from that, the happier we've gotten, the better we've made our lives. Google (Rational Optimist) "Matt Ridley greening" to get another perspective on the "We are killing the planet" meme.

  26. infant mortality is only called infant mortality when the you attempt to save the child, so it makes sense that more advanced countries for instance the US would have a lag because they always try to save the child.

  27. My goodness. That was best TED presentation I've ever seen. From the data to statistics to the vision to doing the impossible. Yes, Sir Roling, the seemingly impossible is possible.

  28. Are people in Africa unhappy? Why does every other country on earth want to "uplift" African countries? So we become sceptical, obese and unhappy? No, thank you. I very much enjoy my simple African life.

  29. that's just you though. and I am assuming you are not in absolute poverty, think about the millions who are. and are suffering, that's who they do it for,

  30. Your point is relevant. In the US, any child born alive is counted at a live birth. In Many European countries, Sweden included, if a child is born weighing less than 500 grams, it is not counted as a live birth. Newborns less than 500 grams are more likely to die. So comparisons are not always apples to apples.

  31. This guy has very good information using his data. It's very true, it put a smile on my face when people are getting out of poverty. This is a must watch video, you need to learn about our world and the people in it.

  32. The guy is a genius. But he shouldn't do sword swallowing. It's too risky. The world needs him alive & well.

  33. If you're a truth seeker and want to know IT , read the present asap

    All our problems stem from people not knowing the truth. Without it we will have no true equality, freedom, survival or justice…


  34. The reference of GDP per capita is misleading because this reveals nothing about the concentration of ownership of assets (i.e., land and capital goods and finance reserves) and income. A main reason for the decline in health and life expectancy in the United States is not difficult to comprehend. Income and wealth are increasingly concentrated, leaving a higher and higher portion of the population left with a subsistence level existence. This is not a result of some natural law but the fact that the U.S. system of law and taxation significantly benefits a "rent-seeking" minority over those who produce goods and provide needed services.

    The U.S. government keeps no statistics on the ownership of land. Roughly half of the land area is held by government at all levels. According to the best estimates of economists (e.g., Mason Gaffney, Fred Foldvary, Nicholas Tideman) who have studied land markets and ownership, over 95% of the LAND VALUE in the U.S. is held by fewer than 5% of the population, plus foreign nationals and corporate interests. For  two-thirds of U.S. households the amount of land  owned is that beneath a primary residence. If the property is within a high rise condominium their proportion of land ownership is nominal. And, of course, one-third of all households own no land at all. Their primary asset is likely to be an automobile.

    The connections are indisputable for anyone willing to think about our history and the ongoing movement of people from the land by force of one form or another. The solution is one in recent years put forward by former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz: change the way government raises revenue from the taxation of earned income, of capital goods and commerce and impose an annual tax on the potential rental value of land and land-like assets (e.g., the broadcast spectrum). This is the only real path to ending poverty in any country.

  35. This video shows very clearly that Racism ,which is White Supremacy, stole the Natural Resources and labor of Brown people and impoverished them. Hans statistics also shows that Karma has reduced the Racists Whites to sub replacement levels and now Brown people of Africa can determine their own fate. It will be difficult but the same Karmic forces will help. I am happy that Africa remained a problem as other countries birth rates fell.

  36. Hi People. There are 3 Pictures hanging in the back. Does anyone know who the women with the yellow bow on the right side is? Would be super great if someone knows the answer or has a Suggestion 🙂 Thanks!

  37. RIP.. Hans Rosling. I've known this news a little minutes ago… oh. I was very happy to watch your ted talk and lectures.. you're so positive and funny so i like you very much, but .. i'm very very very very sad and i can't believe that you've passed away……………… i can't say anything.

  38. No Hans wrong: other later countries profit from technology the first movers had to develop themselves.
    Too bad the fantastic statistician had to produce a (obviously wrong) socialist explaination.
    The problem is ideology induced reasoning. Thanks for the facts.

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