[open-economics] good data visualisation

Guo Xu digitalepourpre at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 14:45:06 UTC 2012

Hey there,

Yes, it's really interesting - and a great analysis put together by
Velichka! Should do a blog post or something out of this?

But I think it also shows how visualization can also be misleading. As
Velichka rightly pointed out, there are two things going on here if
you look at Gov Exp/GDP: Changes in Gov Exp (e.g. cutting) and changes
in aggregate growth. I'm not an expert in this field, but it seems
measuring cutting using Government Expenditure over GDP does not
really measure cutting. So as long as GDP growth is higher than
government spending growth, the measure will drop but this does not
mean there's cutting at all - just that the public sector contributes
relatively less to aggregate output.

Here is a similar plot using the growth rate in government
expenditures: http://i.imgur.com/NWxs1.png

Now the "cutting" does not look as bad as before for the UK. Only
Italy + Greece have negative growth rates of expenditures. For UK,
gov't expenditure growth slows down, but is not shrinking.

Does anyone know more about this how to actually measure this
properly? I feel that - while visualiations are really easy in
communicating a message - the message may actually be
biased/misleading/more complex.

@Velichka: It may be cool to write a School of Data contribution on
this? I mean using the Guardian viz as a starting point, and then
showing the caveats, and that data per se is useless unless you can
interpret it properly?


On 17 October 2012 09:40, Velichka Dimitrova
<velichka.dimitrova at okfn.org> wrote:
> Hi,
> This is really interesting. Especially after the global spike in government
> spending around 2009, many government are making plans on cutting their
> budget.
> As it it curious to see what the other data is, I downloaded and looked at
> the country level data as well as the country groups from the IMF's WEO and
> uploaded the two smaller datasets with the total government expenditure
> relative to GDP on the Datahub:
> http://thedatahub.org/dataset/weo-govexp
> One dataset is the time series for all countries, and the other dataset is
> country groups + United Kingdom.
> Looking at the country data, it seems that the UK is making deeper cuts than
> any of the South European countries in crisis are prepared to do. Imagine
> that even Greece is not as drastic as the UK:
> See Graph
> When comparing with country group averages United Kingdom is indeed plunging
> under the Advanced Economies average. It is still quite interesting to see
> where all country groups have been. In terms of the spiking spending around
> 2009, it is only Latin America that has just gradually increased government
> expenditure around the time of the global financial and economic crisis.
> Asian countries and developing countries have of course much leaner
> governments for the lack of the welfare state.
> See Graph
> Note: as this is about relative numbers, these spikes in government
> expenditure might not be because of increased spending per se
> (infrastructure investments), but also because global GDP numbers fell
> around the crisis years. Has anyone else done some research in this area?
> Would you like to play around with the data yourself and see other
> comparisons between countries?
> You are welcome to have a go at the Google Fusion Table with the dataset of
> all countries.
> Velichka
> On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM, Javier Ruiz <javier at openrightsgroup.org>
> wrote:
>> almost as powerful as the ice hockey graph for climate change
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/graph-cameron-wants-shrink-state
>> --
>> Javier Ruiz
>> javier at openrightsgroup.org
>> +44(0)7877 911 412
>> @javierruiz
>> _______________________________________________
>> open-economics mailing list
>> open-economics at lists.okfn.org
>> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-economics
> --
> Velichka Dimitrova
> Coordinator of the Open Economics Working Group
> Open Knowledge Foundation
> http://okfn.org | http://openeconomics.net
> _______________________________________________
> open-economics mailing list
> open-economics at lists.okfn.org
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