Mapped: The Geography of Global Literacy
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Mapped: The Geography of Global Literacy

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Mapped: The Geography of Global Literacy

Mapped: The Geography of Global Literacy

Literacy is a fundamental building block that can lead to a strong education, the ability to solve complex problems, and gaining the skills and knowledge to participate meaningfully in society. As a result, it’s also an important facilitator of economic development.

However, it’s estimated that nearly 800 million adults around the world still lack basic literacy skills—and this can create ongoing drag on the economy.

In the U.S., as one example, the people with the lowest literacy scores are 16.5x more likely to receive financial aid from the government. At the same time, they are also more likely to be in the lowest earning wage group, earning less than $300 per week.

Today’s post uses charts from Our World in Data, and it shows what literacy looks like on a global scale, and how is it shifting from generation to generation.

Global Literacy: The Big Picture

Over the past two centuries, global literacy has seen steady growth.

In the year 1800, it’s estimated that a mere 12.1% of the world was able to read and write. The most recent data shows the numbers have actually flipped—and now just 13.8% of the global population is illiterate.

It’s clear that from a high level, progress towards global literacy is being made.

But at the same time, a look at the graph shows that in more recent years, the rate of change has been slowing as we reach the “last mile” of literacy.

The Generational Perspective

Learning to read and write is easiest and most fruitful at a young age, and it’s a skill that is very unlikely to be lost later in life. For that reason, it’s worth looking at the difference between older and younger generations in terms of who is learning these skills.

For this, we zoom into the Middle East and Northern Africa region, which is where the majority of recent gains in literacy have been made:

Illiterate population by generation

Here, the difference in literacy between the 15-24 year age group and those over 65 years is substantial, with countries seeing large, double-digit increases in the ability to read and write:

  • 🇩🇿 Algeria
    The literacy rate is at 92% for the 15-24 age group, compared to 16% of the oldest generation
  • 🇮🇷 Iran
    99% of the 15-24 age group is literate, while 29% of the oldest generation can say the same
  • 🇴🇲 Oman
    98% of those aged 15-24 are literate, compared to just 23% in the 65+ age group
  • 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    98% of those aged 15-24 can read and write, versus 26% of those in the oldest bracket
  • 🇪🇷 Eritrea
    The literacy rate is at 90% for the 15-24 age group, and 18% for those in the 65+ age group

It’s not that surprising then, that the above countries all now sit in the 75-95% percent range for overall literacy—a number that will likely improve further as education systems continue to help younger generations become literate early in life.

The Literacy Opportunity

While some countries have seen obvious generational improvements in literacy, there are places in the world where changes to educational systems have not fully yet manifested yet, or perhaps the data is not yet available for.

According to the interactive map above, here are some places on each continent where progress must still be made:

  • North America
    Literacy rates: 🇭🇹 Haiti (61%), 🇬🇹 Guatemala (79%), 🇳🇮 Nicaragua (82%)
  • South America
    Literacy rates: 🇬🇾 Guyana (88%)
  • Europe
    Literacy rates: 🇽🇰 Kosovo (92%)
  • Asia
    Literacy rates: 🇦🇫 Afghanistan (38%), 🇵🇰 Pakistan (56%), 🇧🇩 Bangladesh (61%), 🇾🇪 Yemen (70%)
  • Africa
    Literacy rates: 🇳🇪 Niger (19%), 🇬🇳 Guinea (30%), 🇸🇸 South Sudan (32%), 🇲🇱 Mali (33%), 🇨🇫 Central African Republic (37%), 🇸🇴 Somalia (38%), 🇧🇯 Benin (38%)
  • Oceania
    Literacy rates: 🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea (62%)

With many NGOs and educators focused on this problem, there is hope that the “last mile” of global literacy can be solved, leading to more economic opportunity in these places—and also the world itself as a whole.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Demographics

Mapped: A Decade of Population Growth and Decline in U.S. Counties

This map shows which counties in the U.S. have seen the most growth, and which places have seen their populations dwindle in the last 10 years.

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A Decade of Population Growth and Decline in U.S. Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population changes.

If an area sees a high number of migrants, along with a strong birth rate and low death rate, then its population is bound to increase over time. On the flip side, if more people are leaving the area than coming in, and the region’s birth rate is low, then its population will likely decline.

Which areas in the United States are seeing the most growth, and which places are seeing their populations dwindle?

This map, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a decade of population movement across U.S. counties, painting a detailed picture of U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Counties With The Biggest Population Growth from 2010-2020

To calculate population estimates for each county, the U.S. Census Bureau does the following calculations:

A county’s base population → plus births → minus deaths → plus migration = new population estimate

 
From 2010 to 2020, Maricopa County in Arizona saw the highest increase in its population estimate. Over a decade, the county gained 753,898 residents. Below are the counties that saw the biggest increases in population:

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2010–2020)
#1Maricopa CountyPhoenix, ScottsdaleArizona+753,898
#2Harris CountyHoustonTexas+630,711
#3Clark CountyLas VegasNevada+363,323
#4King CountySeattleWashington+335,884
#5Tarrant CountyFort Worth, ArlingtonTexas+305,180
#6Bexar CountySan AntonioTexas+303,982
#7Riverside CountyRiverside, Palm SpringsCalifornia+287,626
#8Collin CountyPlanoTexas+284,967
#9Travis CountyAustinTexas+270,111
#10Hillsborough CountyTampaFlorida+264,446

Phoenix and surrounding areas grew faster than any other major city in the country. The region’s sunny climate and amenities are popular with retirees, but another draw is housing affordability. Families from more expensive markets—California in particular—are moving to the city in droves. This is a trend that spilled over into the pandemic era as more people moved into remote and hybrid work situations.

Texas counties saw a lot of growth as well, with five of the top 10 gainers located in the state of Texas. A big draw for Texas is its relatively affordable housing market. In 2021, average home prices in the state stood at $172,500$53,310 below the national average.

Counties With The Biggest Population Drops from 2010-2020

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a look at the top 10 counties that saw the biggest declines in their populations over the decade:

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2010–2020)
#1Cook CountyChicagoIllinois-90,693
#2Wayne CountyDetroitMichigan-74,224
#3Cuyahoga CountyClevelandOhio-50,220
#4Genesee CountyFlintMichigan-20,165
#5Suffolk CountyLong IslandNew York-20,064
#6Caddo ParishShreveportLouisiana-18,173
#7Westmoreland CountyMurrysvillePennsylvania-17,942
#8Hinds CountyJacksonMississippi-17,751
#9Kanawha CountyCharlestonWest Virginia-16,672
#10Cambria CountyJohnstownPennsylvania-14,786

The largest drops happened in counties along the Great Lakes, including Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago) and Wayne County (which includes the city of Detroit).

For many of these counties, particularly those in America’s “Rust Belt”, population drops over this period were a continuation of decades-long trends. Wayne County is an extreme example of this trend. From 1970 to 2020, the area lost one-third of its population.

U.S. Population Growth in Percentage Terms (2010-2020)

While the map above is great at showing where the greatest number of Americans migrated, it downplays big changes in counties with smaller populations.

For example, McKenzie County in North Dakota, with a 2020 population of just 15,242, was the fastest-growing U.S. county over the past decade. The county’s 138% increase was driven primarily by the Bakken oil boom in the area. High-growth counties in Texas also grew as new sources of energy were extracted in rural areas.

The nation’s counties are evenly divided between population increase and decline, and clear patterns emerge.

population changes in u.s. counties (%)

Pandemic Population Changes

More recent population changes reflect longer-term trends. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the counties that saw the strongest population increases were located in high-growth states like Florida and Texas.

Below are the 20 counties that grew the most from 2020 to 2021.

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2020–2021)
#1Maricopa CountyPhoenixArizona+58,246
#2Collin CountyPlanoTexas+36,313
#3Riverside CountyRiverside, Palm SpringsCalifornia+35,631
#4Fort Bend CountySugar LandTexas+29,895
#5Williamson CountyGeorgetownTexas+27,760
#6Denton CountyDentonTexas+27,747
#7Polk CountyLakelandFlorida+24,287
#8Montgomery CountyThe WoodlandsTexas+23,948
#9Lee CountyFort MyersFlorida+23,297
#10Utah CountyProvoUtah+21,843
#11Pinal CountySan Tan ValleyArizona+19,974
#12Clark CountyLas VegasNevada+19,090
#13Pasco CountyNew Port RicheyFlorida+18,322
#14Wake CountyRaleighNorth Carolina+16,651
#15St. Johns CountySt. AugustineFlorida+15,550
#16Hillsborough CountyTampaFlorida+14,814
#17Bexar CountySan AntonioTexas+14,184
#18Ada CountyBoiseIdaho+13,947
#19Osceola CountyKissimmeeFlorida+12,427
#20St. Lucie CountyFort PierceFlorida+12,304

Many of these counties are located next to large cities, reflecting a shift to the suburbs and larger living spaces. However, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and the pandemic housing boom tapers off due to rising interest rates, it remains to be seen whether the suburban shift will continue, or if people begin to migrate back to city centers.

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Money

Mapping the Migration of the World’s Millionaires

This graphic maps out the migration of millionaires across the globe, showing the top 10 countries the ultra-rich are moving to and from.

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Mapping the Migration of the World’s Millionaires

Throughout 2022, a projected 88,000 millionaires will move to a new country, according to the latest Henley Global Citizens Report.

Which countries are these millionaires moving to, and where in the world are they coming from?

This graphic maps the migration of high net worth individuals (HNWIs)—people with a net worth of over US$1 million—showing where rich people are flocking, and where they’re fleeing.

Migration of Millionaires is Back

Before diving into the country-specific data, it’s worth taking a step back to look at overall millionaire migration trends, and how things are changing this year.

2020 saw a drastic drop in the number of millionaire migrants, as pandemic-induced lockdowns kept people from leaving their home countries—and at times, their homes in general.

But as restrictions ease and countries begin to open up their borders again, the migration of millionaires is beginning to gather steam once again:

Year# of HNWIs that migratedY-o-y change
2018108,00014%
2019110,0002%
202012,000-89%
202125,000108%
2022P88,000252%
2023P125,00042%

Below, we’ll dive into which countries are seeing the highest number of HNWI migrants, and which ones are losing the most HNWIs.

Which Countries Are Millionaires Leaving?

There are a plethora of reasons why the ultra-rich move countries. Escaping conflict is one of them, which is why it’s no surprise to see Russia and Ukraine are projected to see some of the biggest emigration numbers by the end of 2022.

Here are the top 10 countries by millionaire outflows:

CountryProjected net outflows of HNWIs (2022)% of HNWIs lost
🇷🇺​ Russia15,00015%
🇨🇳​ China10,0001%
🇮🇳​ India8,0002%
🇭🇰 Hong Kong3,0002%
​🇺🇦 Ukraine2,80042%
​🇧🇷​ Brazil2,5002%
🇬🇧​ UK1,5000%
🇲🇽​ Mexico8000%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia6001%
🇮🇩 Indonesia6001%

Figures rounded to the nearest 100.

While Russia is expected to see 15,000 millionaires leaving the country, Ukraine is projected to experience the highest loss in percentage terms—a whopping 42% of its HNWIs could leave the country by the end of 2022.

China could also see a big loss in its millionaire population, with a projected loss of 10,000.
According to Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at New World Wealth, this could be more damaging to the country than in previous years, since general wealth growth in China has declined recently.

Where Are The Ultra-Rich Moving?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a millionaire magnet, with a projected 4,000 HNWIs flowing into the country by the end of 2022. This influx of ultra-wealthy people is partly because of the country’s accommodating immigration policies that are specially tailored to attract private wealth and international talent.

Here are the top 10 countries that saw millionaire inflows:

CountryProjected net inflows of HNWIs (2022)% of HNWI Gained
​​🇦🇪​ UAE4,0004%
🇦🇺​ Australia3,5001%
🇸🇬 Singapore2,8001%
​🇮🇱 Israel2,5002%
​​🇺🇸 USA1,5000%
​🇵🇹​ Portugal1,3002%
🇬🇷​ Greece1,2003%
🇨🇦​ Canada1,0000%
🇳🇿​ New Zealand8001%

Australia continues to attract HNWIs, coming in second behind the UAE. According to New World Wealth, approximately 80,000 millionaires have moved to the Land Down Under in the last two decades.

A few things that attract migrants to Australia are the country’s low costs of healthcare, its lack of inheritance tax, and its generally prosperous economy.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Henley Global Citizens Report 2022

Data notes: As countries reopen, and the invasion of Ukraine wears on, this will have ripple effects on where people choose to live. There are two main things to keep in mind when view the information above. 1) Individuals need to remain in a country for six months in order to be updated in the database. In many cases, it’s not yet clear where people leaving certain countries choosing to relocate. 2) In the graphic above, we’ve visualized the top 10 countries for inflows and outflows.

 

Update: This article and graphic have been updated to more clearly explain what’s being shown, and list the data source in a more prominent way. We appreciate your feedback.

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