Explanation of 3-colour-dimensional maps


Purpose of these maps.  As countries become wealthier, not only does their GDP per capita rise but other socio-economic indicators also change.  For example their birth rate falls, as does their death rate.  Other indicators rise, for example the number of cars per head, or life expectancy. 


However, as GDP rises, these indicators do not rise / fall at the same rate in all countries.  For example, some eastern European countries have low birth rates but only middle-level GDP per capita levels.  Equatorial Guinea has high average GDP per capita levels (which masks considerable inequality of income with many less well off residents), but life expectancy is below other countries which have lower average GDP per capita levels than Equatorial Guinea does.  The 3-colour-dimensional maps show up these anomalies as explained below.


How the 3-colour dimensional maps work.  Firstly, for every indicator analysed, we arrange the values in deciles (tenths) in ascending order of wealth.  For example, we arrange GDP per capita in ascending order, from poorest to wealthiest, but we arrange birth rates in descending order, from highest to lowest, because high birth rates generally go with lower wealth levels.  We arrange life expectancy in ascending order, because wealthier countries generally have longer life expectancies.


Next, we divide the 192 countries and territories represented on these maps into deciles (tenths) of 19 countries each, from the 19 countries with e.g. highest birth rate along to the 19 with lowest birth rate.  We now do the same division for GDP per capita, and for life expectancy.  Note that we call the lowest decile for GDP as the poorest, but we take the highest decile for birth rate as the poorest.  Also we take the lowest decile for life expectancy as the poorest. 


Now imagine putting each country in a separate room, one room per country, and each of these rooms has a red lamp, a green lamp, and a blue lamp; each of these three lamps has a dimmer switch with ten settings from off to fully bright.  We have three socio-economic indicators, and we give each indicator a colour; say red for birth rate, blue for GDP per capita, and green for life expectancy.  We now set the lighting in each country’s room according to what decile the country comes in for each indicator.  For example an oil-exporting country like Equatorial Guinea, with high GDP per capita (associated with wealth), but a high birthrate and low life expectancy (associated more with poverty) would have the blue light in its room turned up bright, but the red and green lights on a more dimmer setting.  The room lighting for this country would be rather blue-ish.  If the red and green lights were set bright but the blue light dimmed, the room would be lit up in a rather yellow-ish light (that would indicate a country with low GDP per capita but low birthrate and high life expectancy; Jamaica for example).  We now give each country, on a world map, the colour of the light in its ‘room’.


Interpretation of the maps.  For a country that scores ‘poor’ on all three social indicators (i.e. low GDP per capita,  high birthrate, low life expectancy, maybe Afghanistan), all of the red, green, blue lamps in its room would be dimmed down, and the colour of this country on a world map would be almost black.  For country with middling levels of GDP, life expectancy and birthrates, the light would be greyish, brightening up to white for a country with high GDP per capita, low birthrate, and high life expectancy, such as Japan.  But as we have seen this doesn’t happen for all countries; Jamaica, remember, was rather a ‘yellowish’ country due to a lower GDP per capita.


So any country that has a colour on the map, that isn’t black, grey, or white, shows that one or more indicators is too low or high for its wealth levels.  There are in fact eight possible colour combinations, from the red, blue, green light settings, that indicate relative levels of the three socio-economic indictors being mapped.  These combinations are given below.


Possible colour combinations:-

Low red, low blue, low green = BLACK

((medium red, medium blue, medium green = GREY))

High red, high blue, high green = WHITE

High red, low blue, low green = RED

High red, high blue, low green = PURPLE-PINK

High red, low blue, high green = YELLOW

Low red, high blue, low green = BLUE

Low red, high blue, high green = TURQUOISE

Low red, low blue, high green = GREEN


Now enjoy the maps (legal disclaimer, www.fooddeserts.org accepts no responsibility for any migraines induced by too much staring at bright clashing colours).