The Gapminder Effect has been measured!

It works!

Right now, the media attention around “fact resistance” makes it seem like it increases. But do we really know? To know such things we must measure it, and to our knowledge nobody has done that.

Six years ago we realized we didn’t know if our presentations had any effect. So we started measuring knowledge. After all Hans’ appearances in media and TED talks, he expected that people would know the facts that he had been repeating. In 2013 we asked a set of knowledge questions to the public in Sweden, only to find that their ignorance of basic global facts was huge.

Only 8% knew that the majority of children get basic vaccines.
Only 23% knew that the global poverty rate has been halved during the last two decades.
Those were multiple choice questions, A, B or C. And a chimpanzees would get 33% correct answers, just by picking randomly.
We were very disappointed.

This year in February, the same month Hans passed away, we asked a new battery of questions. The 2017 results were announced two weeks ago. And to our great relief, they were much better! The Swedish public had improved from 8% to 27% on the vaccination question.

On the poverty trend questions, they were even better than the chimpanzees! That has never happened in Sweden before! Congratulations.

Now we wondered: Was this really thanks to us? So during the last two weeks we have made a follow up study. If only Hans could have seen these results!

The people who picked the correct answer, got a follow up question. “Do you remember from where you got this knowledge?”

We gave them an open answer field to write whatever came to their mind. So we didn’t trick them. This word cloud shows word sizes by their frequency.

46% of the people who answered correctly, attributed their knowledge to “Rosling” or “Gapminder”. We call it the Gapminder effect!

Our conclusion is: It works! We should just continue doing what we have been doing for 18 years, and spread a fact-based worldview, the way we do it.

Please grab our slides, tools and exam questions, and help more people learn the basic global facts!

🙂 Ola Rosling


Published on: Apr 22, 2017

A fact-based worldview for all

– Free tools, videos, slideshows and more!

We live in a globalized world, not only in terms of trade and migration. More people than ever care about global development. But most people have severe misconceptions about contemporary global development. We know, because we have tested people’s knowledge. One of the main reasons for this is that students don’t learn to understand the world based on statistics and facts. Instead, we have a dramatic worldview formed by outdated school books and sensationalist news-stories. People intuitively believe that most things are getting worse. The dramatic worldview leads to irrational decisions by individuals, nonprofits, governments and business.
For the first time in human history reliable statistics exist. There’s data for almost every aspect of global development. The data shows a very different picture: a world where most things improve; a world that is not divided; and a world where the fast population growth will soon be over. The world has never been less bad. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

This dramatic worldview has to be dismantled, because it is stressful and wrong. It leads to bad focus and bad decisions. Facts don’t come naturally. Drama and opinions do. Factual knowledge has to be learned. Thanks to a grant from IKEA Foundation 2013-2016 it has been possible for Gapminder to develop and spread teaching material.

To decide what materials to create, we started by measuring what people know and don’t know about the world. The idea was to focus on the least-known facts. Unfortunately our surveys did not make it easier to prioritize. People had preconceived ideas about the World that made them score worse than random on most of the questions!

We soon realised that the teaching material we had planned wouldn’t be enough. Worst of all: people were ignorant about their ignorance. They thought they already knew the basics about the World so they had no incentives to (re)learn. We had to start by making people humble and aware about their own ignorance before we could teach them successfully. Initially we got overwhelmed when we realized the enormous size of the problem. We had stumbled upon something bigger and more important that we had initially thought. We are now even more excited to work on it! We realised we needed to team up with real teachers to reach maximum impact.

Instead of wasting our time blaming the media or condemning the human brain, Gapminder tackles the dramatic worldview by developing free teaching material. The goal is to dismantle misconceptions and promote a fact-based worldview. For the last 5 years the Gapminder School project has focused on exactly that: creating and spreading data visualizations, videos, slideshows, posters and other educational material for students to get a consistent and fact-based worldview.

Gapminder Tools ( let you compare hundreds of indicators and understand the health and wealth of all nations. It works on desktops, tablets and mobile phones.

Gapminder tools makes it possible to see the data as bubbles, lines, mountains, ranks and maps.

We created a series of 90-second videos to answer basic questions about the world (


We also created free slideshows and posters, that anyone can download ( and easily modify, copy, use however they want to help the facts about our changing world to reach more people.


Reliable global statistics exists for nearly every aspect of global development. And we are working to transform this numbers into public understanding. We haven’t finished this task yet, we still have much more to do! All Gapminder School material is freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Results for the Swedish Public on the ‘Gapminder Test 2017’

We asked the Swedish public 12 questions about the the world: those are basic global facts you need to know to start building a fact-based worldview.

Check the questions and results below! You can also see the complete report here.

1. In the last 20 years the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, worldwide, has…?
A. Almost doubled
B. Remained more or less the same
C. Almost halved

Correct answer: Almost halved
Source: World Bank


2. How many of the world’s 1-year-old children today have been vaccinated against some disease?
A. 80%
B. 50%
C. 20%

Correct answer: 80%

Source: WHO & UNICEF



3. How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last hundred years?
A. More than doubled
B. Remained more or less the same
C. Decreased to less than half

Correct answer: Decreased to less than half

Source: OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database


4. Of all people in the world today, the majority live in:
A. Low income countries
B. Middle income countries
C. High income countries

Correct answer: Middle income countries
Source: World Bank Population Data


5. Worldwide, 30 year old men have spent 10 years in school, on average. How many years have women of the same age spent in school?
A. 9 years
B. 6 years
C. 3 years

Correct answer: 9 years
Source: IHME Global Educational Attainment


6. There are roughly seven billion people in the world today. Which map shows where people live? (Each figure represents 1 billion people.)


Correct: A
Source: Based on 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects


7. The United Nations predicts that by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion people. What is the main reason?
A. There will be more children
B. There will be more adults
C. There will be more very old people


Correct answer: There will be more adults
Source: 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects


8. In all low income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B. 40%
C. 60%

Correct answer: 60%
Source: UNESCO


9. There are two billion children in the world today, aged 0 to 15 years old. How many children will there be in the year 2100 according to the United Nations?
A. 4 billion
B. 3 billion
C. 2 billion

Correct answer: 2 billion
Source: 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects


10. The global climate experts believe that, over the next 100 years, the average temperature will:
A. Get warmer
B. Remain the same
C. Get colder

Correct answer: Get warmer
Source: IPCC


11. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A. 20%
B. 50%
C. 80%

Correct answer: 80%
Source: Global Electrification database


12. What is the life expectancy of the world population?
A. 50 years
B. 60 years
C. 70 years

Correct answer: 70 years
Source: WHO

Ignorance Survey in Germany 2014

In August 2014 the Ignorance Survey was conducted in one more country!

We asked selected questions about global development trends to a representative sample of the German population and here are the results:

Results German Ignorance 2014

You can also read the full story (in German) here.

The Ignorance Survey was conducted in Germany in a collaboration between DER SPIEGEL and TNS Infratest GmbH, Berlin.

You can read more about our ignorance project here:

Gapminder Desktop launched

Now you can use Gapminder World – with all its indicators – from your own computer, even when you have no Internet. Just download and install the new Gapminder Desktop.

A downloadable version of Gapminder World is the single most requested tool, and we are very happy to be able to now offer just that, free of charge.

Click here to downloadClick here to download Gapminder Desktop

Gapminder Desktop is particularly useful for presentations as it allows you to prepare your graphs in advance and you won’t need an Internet connection at your lecture or presentation.

In the “list of graphs” you will get at preset list of graphs on the left side, but you can also very easily create your own favorite examples. Simply arrange the graph the way you want it and click “bookmark this graph”. Your example will the appear in your own list of favorite graphs. Perfect when you want to prepare a lecture or presentation.

Click here to download Gapminder Desktop

New: Country graphs in Google search

World Bank data in Google SearchBack in April Google launched a search function for US public data with interactive graphing. Today, Google has made this feature much more useful with the inclusion of 17 indicators from the World Bank, including the number of internet users, life expectancy, and a host of other indicators for most of the world’s countries.

Click this link to see South Africa’s life expectancy in the new graph. Click the graph in the search result to see an interactive graph where you can compare with other countries.

Note that this currently only works when searching, not country-specific sites such as

Also read Google’s official announcement:

World Bank public data, now in search

New bubble graph: Gapminder Agriculture

cow_shadowWhich country has the largest grain production? Who produces the most fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee beans or other crops? And who brings up the most sheeps, cows, or other livestock?

Now you can see agricultural production in a completely new Gapminder Graph. With data from FAO, we have collected over 700 indicators to show how agricultural production has changed over the last 45 years.

Here are a few examples: