Here is the full transcript of Anna Rosling Rönnlund’s Talk: See How the Rest of the World Lives, Organized by Income at TED conference.
What images do we see from the rest of the world? We see natural disasters, war, terror. We see refugees, and we see horrible diseases. Right?
We see beautiful beaches, cute animals, beautiful nature, cultural rites and stuff. And then we’re supposed to make the connection in our head and create a worldview out of this. And how is that possible? I mean, the world seems so strange. And I don’t think it is. I don’t think the world is that strange, actually.
I’ve got an idea. So, imagine the world as a street, where the poorest live on one end and the richest on the other, and everyone in the world lives on this street. You live there, I live there, and the neighbors we have are the ones with the same income. People that live in the same block as me, they are from other countries, other cultures, other religions. The street might look something like this.
And I was curious. In Sweden where I live, I’ve been meeting quite a lot of students. And I wanted to know, where would they think they belong on a street like this? So we changed these houses into people. This is the seven billion people that live in the world. And just by living in Sweden, most likely you belong there, which is the richest group.
But the students, when you ask them, they think they are in the middle. And how can you understand the world when you see all these scary images from the world, and you think you live in the middle, while you’re actually atop? Not very easy.
So I sent out photographers to 264 homes in 50 countries — so far, still counting — and in each home, the photographers take the same set of photos. They take the bed, the stove, the toys and about 135 other things. So we have 40,000 images or something at the moment, and it looks something like this.
Here we see, it says on the top, “Families in the world by income,” and we have the street represented just beneath it, you can see. And then we see some of the families we have visited. We have the poorer to the left, the richer to the right, and everybody else in between, as the concept says. We can go down and see the different families we have been to so far.
Here, for instance, we have a family in Zimbabwe, one in India, one in Russia, and one in Mexico, for instance. So we can go around and look at the families this way. But of course, we can choose if we want to see some certain countries and compare them, or regions, or if we want, to see other things.
So let’s go to the front doors and see what they look like. Go here, and this is the world by front doors, ordered by income. And we can see the big difference from India, Philippines, China, Ukraine, in these examples, for instance.