Maps That Infuriate Me: World Poverty

This is the second post in my series called Maps That Infuriate Me. The first can be found here. Unlike in my first post, the following maps do not infuriate me because they are inaccurate or because of what they fail to show. Rather, they are infuriating for what they succeed in showing - the unconscionable amounts of poverty in the world. I've retrieved each of these three maps from Worldmapper, an excellent site that I also referenced over three years ago in this post, where I used the third map I'm going to show you here.

Human Poverty
Each of these maps is a cartogram, a map where some chosen variable is represented by the size of the map's different parts - here the countries of the world. In the map above, two indices were used to measure the poverty rate in every country in the world and multiply that by the proportion of the world's population each country contains. The larger the country appears, the higher its percentage of the world's impoverished people. Burkina Faso had the worst poverty index score, followed by Niger and Mali.

Living on $2 a day or less
This map shows the proportion of the world's population living on the equivalent of US$2 per day or less (in terms of purchasing power parity). In 2002, 43% of the world's population lived on this little, as do over 90% of the population in Nigeria and Mali and almost 80% in India, not to mention many other countries with over 80%. Compared to the first map, India, China, El Salvador and Honduras have all grown larger, (just to name a few), and developed countries and most of the Middle East have shrunk down to nothingness.

Living on $1 a day or less
This final map shows the proportion of the world's population living on only US$1 per day - or less. More precisely, it's really those living on what $1.08 (or less) would have bought in the United States in 1993. The highest rates of those living on this little money are in Mali and Nigeria, but the largest populations are concentrated in South and East Asia. Note how misshapen the Korean Peninsula is, with the North so large and the South so small. Nigeria is now at its largest yet, only smaller than India and China. Compared to the second map, Mali, Niger and Sudan have all grown, while Egypt and Southeast Asia have shrunk significantly.

These maps do have a downside, which is that they don't call attention to countries that may have very high rates of poverty but simply don't have very large populations. The maps are also several years out of date, and dynamics of poverty and population can change quite quickly over time. However, all these maps go to show that there are massive numbers of our fellow human beings who survive - and often suffer - with far less than we do. I believe the greatest challenge of our species in this century is to help raise up these people and to start equalizing, little by little, access to opportunity and freedom from want all around the world.

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