I'm collecting sites that have interesting ways of depicting data, and came upon Worldmapper, which uses unusual maps to show all kinds of economic and development indicators, such as literacy and life expectancy. The maps are reshaped so that the relative distribution of the indicator value is shown in the relative size of each country.
I played around with some of the maps showing education indicators and economic development, and was struck by the similarity in the distribution of spending on primary education (first image), secondary education, and research/development (second image).
Countries with high spending in one category tended to also have high spending in the other two categories. Likewise, countries with low investment in education also had low investments in R&D. I also found a lot of similarity with the map showing the distribution of new patents, a good indicator of innovation. Draw your own conclusions, or read more in the Eldis resource page on education and economic growth.
Worldmapper currently has 366 different maps, and they keep adding more. Visit their site, pick a few indicators, and see if you can guess what shape the world is in.
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