Wealth and Population Density by Jonas send
The animated map shows the distributions of population and wealth across the globe styled as a nighttime satellite image. It illuminates one of the major issues of our collective present and future: wealth inequality.
If we look at the distribution of population, we can see the bright lights of India, China, and South East Asia, where currently half of the world's population lives. Moving to the distribution of wealth, however, it is striking how most of these regions lose their glow, how Africa and South America grow mostly dark, how "The West" lights up.
The animation illustrates an imbalance that complicates many of the big challenges of our times, like climate change, migration, and attaining and safeguarding peace. While the centre of gravity of our world's population currently lies firmly in Asia, most of our world's wealth is still held by those living in countries that have dictated the world's fate for the last centuries. Only China acts as a counterbalance to the West. And Africa, the only fast-growing continent left, has yet to receive a significant share of the world's wealth.
The underlying data has a few different sources. The European Commission Joint Research Centre provides data on population density in 2020, Credit Suisse publishes estimations of wealth by country in 2021, and the World Bank maintains population figures for 2022. This data can naturally only be an approximation of reality. Especially accurate data on wealth is notoriously hard to come by. In addition, due to data limitations, I assume wealth per capita to be uniformly spatially distributed within countries and replace missing data with median values. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt about the diverging distributions of population and wealth that light and darken the planet in my work.
My code can be accessed here: https://github.com/JonasSend/wealth-density