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Factfulness: A world of 4 income levels explained — beyond developing and developed countries

A world of 4 income levels

I grew up with the idea that there are developed countries and developing countries. There was the ‘rich’ world and the ‘poor’ world. I didn’t actively consider it. It’s just always been there. And it’s wrong.

In his excellent book Factfulness, Hans Rosling shows that wealthier countries tend to have smaller families and a low child mortality rate. In contrast, poorer countries are more likely to have larger families and a high child mortality rate. Plotting the spread of countries in 1965 gives a reasonable approximation of a cluster of ‘developed’ countries with small families where most children survive and a cluster of ‘developing’ countries with larger families where more children die. But that was in 1965.

The world has changed a lot since then, and that model of dividing the world into two buckets no longer holds true with the data. Most people in the world are somewhere in the middle.

And more helpful than dismantling my worldview was providing a new model to replace it: a model with 4 income levels instead of 2 and the number of billions of people living at each level. It’s a model with most people somewhere in the middle.

For more, check out the Factfulness book, or Gapminder. And you could do much worse than watch Hans’ entertaining TED talk: the best stats you’ve ever seen.

Also see: The destiny instinct

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