As a continuation of my previous experiments with the freedom indices, I plotted some other national data.
Besides GDP life expectancy is a good indicator of quality of life. Here is the life expectancy at birth vs log GDP:
There seems to be a "main sequence" where life expectancy increases roughly with the logarithm of GDP for most somewhat well-off nations. Below a certain cut-off things rapidly turn far worse, most likely because basic health services and sanitation are absent. There is also a cloud of nations in the low middle with far lower life expectancy than their GDP suggest. These nations are the main victims of the AIDS epidemics - this diagram shows the enormous cost in terms of life expectancy.
So, let's start looking at how economy and freedom interacts in a few other ways.
Two peaks of freedom can be noticed - the de-colonizations in Africa in the early 70's, and the big one: the fall of the eastern block. It is interesting to see the oscillations preceeding it, including sharp declines in 1975 and 1988 and how increases in civil liberties appears to preceede increases in political freedoms. There is also a sad dip in civil liberties in 92, likely due to the emergence of many new not-very democratic states.
Another fun way of visualizing what is going on is to plot it as color (red=little freedom, blue=much freedom, white=no data). Starting in 1972, one can either sort the countries after how free they became or how free they were when they started:
[Political freedom and civil liberties added together]
The first plot shows where they ended up. We can clearly see that democracies are rather stable, while there is plenty of things going on in the intermediate range. The worst tyrranies do tend to remain despotic. The color fields to the right of the figure shows the relative sizes of different freedoms: democracy is exapanding, but so is the orange-red area.
The second plot shows how they started. At the top it is fairly clear when new states emerged (former colonies in the 70's, the USSR breakup 90). One can see how the new states of the 70's either went democratic right away, or spent the time up to 90's with serious lack of freedom (lots of African communist-despotic states here) and still have not gotten halfway to maximal freedom. It is also clear that democracies remain democratic, but even the worst dictatorships can change.
This is a good example why plotting too many parameters is not always good visualisation :-)
Some interesting features: most states lie along a "main sequence" or rather a slightly curved surface of increasing GDP, growth and freedom. The flatness for poor countries is of course partially due to using absolute GDP change rather than relative; the spread shifts the other way if relative change is used. The wounded economies of Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay are clearly visible as one branch, while the growing anglosphere is expanding in the other direction led by Ireland. There might be a third one, involving Iceland, Kuwait, Japan and some other nations that are not doing too well (hard to see, even when you can rotate the diagram freely). Libya is a suspicious outlier - people get too old and it has too much wealth to fit the low freedom indices. The AIDS-victims of southern africa are visible as blue dots in the middle of the middle red.
[Version with directions color marked to the right]
Each line shows how the nations would change if they kept up their present trend (current GDP change, freedom index weighted with an IIR alpha=0.5). The usual stable, well-off corner down to the right is there. A few nations like France and Spain are moving the last bit to maximally free in the index. Up to the left of them there is a group of nations that have become rather democratic and now are moving up mainly economically: Latvia, Lithuania, Grenada, Poland, Costa Rica, South Africa, Estonia, Slovak Republic, Hungary and the Czech republic.
Overall, wealth seems to stabilize political systems. The wild shifts up and down exist in the poor left half of the diagram, while the right is far calmer.
On request, here is the data files and Matlab programs I used to make the illustrations in this and previous post. The data itself of course belongs (?) to the Heritage Foundation, Fraser Institute, Freedom House. I take no responsibility for correctness and suggest that anybody who wants to play seriously with this fun field download it directly from them, since there are many useful comments on methodology at the sites and it is so educational to write one's own code.
Download index of economic freedom file (Heritage data)
Download GDP/life exp.
Download gdp growth
Download country names for FH historical data
Download poltical freedom
Download 3D plot
Download change plot
Download color order plot
Download freedom house time data
Download fraser-heritage plot
Download fraser data
Download correlation matrix plot