I found an amazing graph while reading the Scientific American blog site. The link given in SciAm is a google site. But the details in the "about" section of the "help" at the site indicate this comes from the Gapminder Foundation in Sweden.
Gapminder is a Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. Funding has been mainly by grants from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. In collaboration with United Nations Statistic Division Gapminder promote free access to searchable public data and all animations of different types of data are freely available at www.gapminder.org.
Anyway, this is an absolutely amazing animated graph. It plots life expectancy vs. per-capita gdp by country over time for about 30 years. And it includes a circle for each country to indicate how that country's population is changing. What a wealth of information. But wait, as the ads say, there's more.
You can select one or two or more individual countries and plot the graph of their changes over time. Just select the "trails" button in the lower right to show the track of changes. Then hit play to watch the years pass by.
China is the most amazing country to watch. It's raised itself from lowest income levels to the middle of the graph over the course of the years. Lots of other countries have improved their situations as well. In fact, that's one of the big stories I see on the graph - the steady improvement in life expectancy and gdp in most countries.
But there's one very glaring exception. The African nations are not sharing in these improvements. Select almost any of the blue dots (the African countries) and plot their changes. Almost all will show some improvement early in the time period. Then they drop like rocks, either in life expectancy or income or both. It must be caused by the Aids epidemic, I figure. And it's shocking to see. South Africa, Camaroon, Zimbabwe, they all show the same pattern. It will take a lot of work to bring to Africa the sorts of progress happening in other areas of the globe.
One last note - I realize that there are a ton of issues not addressed by these graphs. I know that individual countries may show improvements in these measures but still have serious problems touching the lives of their people. Still, this graph is a fascinating bit of world information which can be used to help us understand how we're all doing.