Visualisation of 50 years of OECD countries at a glance

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At the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the OECD, SICENTER presented Visualisation of 50 years of OECD countries at a glance for 14 selected indicators based on the time distance methodology.

An additional way of presentation and covering many units and many years

This presentation over many countries and many years provided a better summary and understanding than looking at the original indicator table of 34 countries over several decades. It is a new and easily understandable presentation which still contains the most important information. With the time distance concept, the same data from the OECD Factbook 2010 have been arranged by selected levels of indicators showing in which year these levels were achieved by given countries.

The visualisation of the level-time matrix allows for a quick level comparison of the situation across the whole set of OECD countries. The level-time matrix can lead to further derivation of two novel statistical measures: S-time-distance and S-time-step.[1],[2]

Comparisons across OECD countries, over time and between indicators

For the majority of the selected 14 indicators, it is obvious, at a glance, that the differences between OECD countries are large. For instance, for gross domestic expenditures on R&D, GDP per capita and tertiary attainment, the indicator values for the highest countries are 4 to 5 times higher than for the lowest countries. While best practices are of interest, it is obvious that policies have to be differentiated and adjusted to wide differences in circumstance.

The tables also provide a quick visual impression of different situations comparing across indicators. All OECD countries have enjoyed important progress in domains like life expectancy and GDP per capita, but less have achieved progress in road fatalities and tertiary attainment. For some structural indicators (like total employment rate, gross domestic expenditures in R&D, current account balance), there was very little change for the OECD average, but there were substantial changes within countries.

There is a wealth of information and possible comparisons in the tables; the comments provided in the presentation are just some examples of such interpretations. Such presentations represent an easily understandable summary visualisation to help ‘Turn Statistics into Knowledge’.

The table below for share of elderly population covers a period of 100 years (1951-2050). This table of 34 countries across 100 years with 3400 entries allows for a dynamic compressed presentation of the long-term information and visualisation, providing a relevant perception of the situation.

Elderly pop projections OECD.PNG



See also


  1. Time distance concept with S-time-distance and S-time-step is expressed in time units that are intuitively understandable to policy makers, media and the general public. See e.g. Sicherl, P. (2006), “Measuring Progress Of Societies”, Statistical days 2006, Statistical Society of Slovenia, Radenci
  2. Sicherl, P. (2011), “New Understanding and Insights from Time-Series Data Based on Two Generic Measures: S-Time-Distance and S-Time-Step”, OECD Statistics Working Papers, 2011/09, OECD Publishing

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