The joy of stats

Sweden (Stockholm)

In 2005, Stockholm-based philanthropist Hans Rosling predicted that differentiating between hard data and opinion would be one of the digital age’s greatest obstructions. With that in mind, he founded Gapminder with the mission to debunk myths and fight ignorance with a simple, fact-based worldview that everyone can understand: “Sensationalist media tends to exaggerate the unusual and focus on swift changes, rather than slow and steady changes in major global trends,” said Rosling.

Working to promote sustainability through an encyclopedic database of long-term global trends, the NGO regularly undertakes surveys across Europe as part of their Ignorance Project, and uses these knowledge gaps to determine the kind of data Gapminder needs to present to the world.

Data is presented in a visibly attractive format and ranges from the impact of religion on family size, the contrast between wealth and health of nations, and countries with the heaviest population and CO2 emissions, to the cost of gasoline and education. For example, a comparison in primary school expenditure around the world shows that although the US is way above other countries in GDP, it spends a proportionally smaller amount on primary school education compared to ‘poor’ countries like Latvia or Burkino Faso. As the best predictor of future prison population is primary school reading levels, this is stark reading. Mind the knowledge gap, indeed.

Written by

Natasha Drewnicki (01 September 2015)


Natasha has rendered her insatiable nosiness into a career in journalism and PR. When not juggling projects in Barcelona, she'll be surfing in North Spain or Cornwall.

Project leader

Hans Rosling, CEO

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