Declining British Wages

Now for the actual piece for today.

We have a scatterplot from the Financial Times that looks at wage and economic growth across the OECD, focusing on the exception that is the United Kingdom. And that is not an exception in the good sense.

The UK had the rare privilege of experiencing economic growth—that’s good—while simultaneously wages fell—that’s bad. But I wanted to comment on the chart today.

I would have designed this a little bit differently
I would have designed this a little bit differently

Straight off the bat, the salmon-coloured background does not bother me. That is FT’s brand and best to stick to it and make your graphics work around it. Possibly the colours in the plot could use a bit of a push to increase separation, but that is more a design quibble. Instead, I am not too keen on the colour coding here.

Not that the colours need not be applied, but why to the dots? Note how the dots of a colour fall into one of the quadrants. Instead of having people refer to the legend, incorporate the legend into the chart by moving the labels to the plot background. You could colour code the labelling or even colour the quadrants to make it a bit clearer.

Credit for the piece goes to the Financial Times graphics department.

Wealth and Education

Today’s post looks at education across a set of 65 countries from a standardised test backed by the OECD, basically a group of wealthy countries. The test results found that some poor countries have surprisingly good education systems whereas some of the world’s wealthiest countries—here’s looking at you, United States—perform poorly. The Huffington Post created this graphic to plot the data.

Education scores
Education scores

I really enjoy this piece. It plots each income decile’s results, blocks the countries into OECD members versus their partners, and then each country’s average socioeconomic status is shown as being above or below the OECD average. This is the type of piece I see as a static image that I would want to see made interactively—though I fully understand how difficult and time-consuming that can be—so that I could begin to filter and re-arrange the data. Could discoveries be made by organising countries by geographic regions? Could one just look at the top or bottom deciles?

Credit for the piece goes to Jan Diehm.