Posted by: Martin | June 6, 2010

Health and Money

Gapminder has recently released the World Map 2010 with health (y-axis) and money/GDP (x-axis) for all countries:

It’s good stuff, and maybe even more interesting than seeing this static picture, is to see dynamically how all the countries have moved from 1800 until today at Gapminder World.  Looking at those movements, all countries start in the bottom left quadrant in year 1800, and then move towards the top right corner with the United Kingdom leading the way in the 19th century, and the US in the 20th century.

As for the Ivory Coast (marked in red) it reached it’s best position on the “Money” axis in 1980 and was at the time way ahead of China and India. Guess these were the glory days of Felix Houphouet-Boigny when the Ivory Coast was by far the wealthiest country in West Africa,  commodity prices were high, and skyscrapers were shooting up in Abidjan.

I don’t think this period is forgotten at all in the national psyche of Ivorians. Many see the current situation as a temporary setback and maintain that they really should be better off than the Togolese, Senegalese, Ghanaians, Nigerians etc. I have heard Ivorians living in Europe take pride in the fact that they, unlike the rest of West Africans really didnt need to emigrate in the past, and just do it now because of the crisis, but will go back as soon and things get better.

Unfortunately after 1980, the Ivory Coast went backwards on the “Money” axis, while Africa stayed still and the rest of the world went forward. In the end of the 1990s Ivory Coast did move ahead again along with the rest of Africa, but then  fell back due to the civil war in 2002.

However,  the global overall trend over the long term  is very strong and very positive – and that includes Africa as well. Countries that have setbacks always seem to bounce back (look at the UK after World War I for example) and that is what Ivory Coast has been doing the last 3-4 years.  So short of a global nuclear war, it seems pretty clear to me that Africa and the rest of the world will continue to move towards the top right corner. A debt crisis in the developed world is not going to affect these trends.

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