Applied Statistics

Everybody’s a critic

Christopher Nelson writes:

Check out the GDP chart under “The New Triad” here:


It’s supposed to compare GDP in China, India, and the US for three time periods but for my money, it’s composed wrong. The bars should be for the years, not the countries. That way we could see total GDP in each year and how it was composed of the respective GDPs. It would even be fairly easy to scan across and see how the country’s GDP grew or shrank. What’s there is just confusing.

I agree. Better to put time on the x-axis if possible. Then you don’t need a bar plot at all, you can use a line plot, which I generally prefer.


  1. #1 Jon Peltier
    November 22, 2009

    Is that a stacked bar chart? Or do all the bars start at zero and the smaller bars obscure the bottoms of the larger bars? I couldn’t tell from the article.

  2. #2 DR
    November 22, 2009

    Those must all start at zero, I would assume GDP would increase over time, not decrease and then rebound. What a confusingly constructed graph!

  3. #3 Robert Kosara
    November 22, 2009

    I think the best choice here would be three bars next to each other for each country, not grouped by year. That way, you can see the growth over time for each country, and compare across countries as well.

    I also disagree about using lines here, since these are individual, distinct projections (not measured values). There is no data in between the years, so distinct bars are a better representation.

    But yeah, terrible chart. The numbers are quite interesting though, and also the GDP/capita chart in the linked article.

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