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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Infographics by Razem Party are made up

Due to unpopularity of mainstream "left wing" party in Poland SLD, a lot of minor alternative parties tried to come up over the years. So far it's been an endless series of abysmal failures, but did that ever discourage anyone?

The most recent one is Partia Razem (Together Party). Normally I don't care about minor parties with very remote chance of getting elected, but somehow my social media feed got overran by Razem infographics. Most of them are just inflammatory cherrypicking, like comparing salaries of nurses or supermarket workers and one bank CEO or another, which I have no reason to suspect of being false, even if they are completely meaningless.

A few really caught by attention, as numbers they presented seemed economically implausible.

Here are some examples, labour share in GDP. First Poland vs Czech Republic over time:

 And here's some international comparison:

Wait, 36.1%? How the hell does that even... That would be less than China, and China has such low labour share because it spends such unprecedented amounts of money on infrastructure.

Let's check the sources. No link, it just "Eurostat". So what Eurostat has to say about this. Well, Eurostat doesn't seem to have any such data directly, but AMECO has data derived from Eurostat data in two series - Adjusted wage share total economy ALCD0 and ALCD2, differing in treatment of some taxes.

AMECO is somewhat painful to link to, so let's just screenshot actual numbers from both series (click to enlarge):


What can we see? Well, wage share in Poland is indeed much below EU average, which is actually to be expected in rapidly developing country (as larger share of GDP inevitably goes to infrastructure investment, see China etc. for extreme case). But those numbers are completely different. In particular numbers for Poland and Czech Republic Razem wanted to single out are identical - both 53.8% in ALCD2 series, and very close 47.8%/48.7% in ALCD0 series.

These are not their only infographic that seemed suspicious, just the only one I bothered investigating.

In perfect world people would use neutral data, and let it tell the story. We don't live in perfect world, so people routinely cherrypick data that fits their needs and use bullshit visualization techniques. But just making numbers up? Come on, that's inexcusable.

4 comments:

Wojciech Hryniewski said...

The numbers are not made up. You can see the values used by Razem on Eurostat pages:

1. Go to http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nama_gdp_c&lang=en3
2. Choose Compensation of employees as indic_na, and Percentage of gross domestic product as the unit
3. Results of exact same value as in the Partia Razem's information are visible.

I don't know why the numbers from ALCD0/2 indicators differ from the data I've pointed to (I'm not the author of the graphic). However, I believe you should correct your post, as the numbers from iconographic are clearly not made up.

taw said...

So that's where they got the numbers from.

Eurostat numbers are this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compensation_of_employees ()
Relevant numbers all economists use are this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_share (ALCD0/2 are like that)

So at least Razem took real numbers of something unrelated and just stuck wrong label on them, I was literally suspecting them of totally making up the numbers.

Anonymous said...

No. Use the data explorer and try to figure out why. Using wikipedia is beyond contempt.

Sia Pitt said...

Nice post and ideas for presentation services
via different infographics thanks for the post