A global perspective on child health

After publishing data sets from Kent on child health, we have been looking from inspiration on how to present and reuse such information. A wonderful example of using data visualisations to tell a story of global demographic trends has been compiled by Hans Rosling’s excellent Gapminder organisation here. Using national statistics on child mortality and income per capita they show how the rate of child mortality has been on a gradual downward trend globally.

Looking more closely at the data, picking out countries with a higher GDP it is possible to conclude that better education, a good health service and economic growth contribute to the lowering of child mortality rates.

Interestingly a similar visualisation of child mortality and total fertility (of women) over time, shows that the number of children born to women drops as the rate of child mortality drops. Does one cause the other or are the two trends mutually exclusive? This is just one question raised by the data, and one that presumably could spawn decades of research.

Hans Rosling notes from this same visualisation, that in Afghanistan during the war, women were having 6 children, 2 were dying and 4 were surviving. This scenario would lead to a doubling in population within a generation. The surprising conclusion; that war, terrible as it is in causing very high child mortality rates, actually causes population growth.

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