sponsored links
TEDIndia 2009

Hans Rosling: Asia's rise -- how and when

November 4, 2009

Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world's dominant economic force. At TEDIndia, he graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US.

Hans Rosling - Global health expert; data visionary
In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus. Full bio

sponsored links
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Once upon a time,
00:17
at the age of 24,
00:19
I was a student at St. John's Medical College in Bangalore.
00:21
I was a guest student during one month
00:26
of a public health course.
00:29
And that changed my mindset forever.
00:31
The course was good, but it was not the course content
00:34
in itself that changed the mindset.
00:37
It was the brutal realization,
00:39
the first morning,
00:41
that the Indian students were better than me.
00:43
(Laughter)
00:46
You see, I was a study nerd.
00:47
I loved statistics from a young age.
00:49
And I studied very much in Sweden.
00:51
I used to be in the upper quarter of all courses I attended.
00:53
But in St. John's, I was in the lower quarter.
00:57
And the fact was that Indian students
01:01
studied harder than we did in Sweden.
01:03
They read the textbook twice,
01:06
or three times or four times.
01:08
In Sweden we read it once and then we went partying.
01:10
(Laugher)
01:13
And that, to me,
01:15
that personal experience
01:18
was the first time in my life
01:20
that the mindset I grew up with
01:23
was changed.
01:25
And I realized that perhaps
01:28
the Western world will not continue
01:30
to dominate the world forever.
01:32
And I think many of you have the same sort of personal experience.
01:35
It's that realization of someone you meet
01:39
that really made you change your ideas about the world.
01:42
It's not the statistics, although I tried to make it funny.
01:44
And I will now,
01:48
here, onstage,
01:52
try to predict when that will happen --
01:54
that Asia will regain
01:57
its dominant position
02:02
as the leading part of the world,
02:04
as it used to be, over thousands of years.
02:06
And I will do that
02:10
by trying to predict precisely
02:12
at what year
02:15
the average income per person
02:17
in India, in China, will reach that of the West.
02:19
And I don't mean the whole economy,
02:22
because to grow an economy
02:24
of India to the size of U.K. --
02:26
that's a piece of cake, with one billion people.
02:28
But I want to see when will the average pay, the money
02:31
for each person, per month,
02:35
in India and China,
02:37
when will that have reached that of U.K. and the United States?
02:39
But I will start with a historical background.
02:43
And you can see my map if I get it up here. You know?
02:46
I will start at 1858.
02:49
1858 was a year of great technological
02:52
advancement in the West.
02:56
That was the year when Queen Victoria
02:58
was able, for the first time, to communicate
03:01
with President Buchanan,
03:03
through the Transatlantic Telegraphic Cable.
03:05
And they were the first to "Twitter" transatlantically.
03:08
(Laughter)
03:11
(Applause)
03:12
And I've been able, through this wonderful Google and Internet,
03:16
to find the text of the telegram
03:19
sent back from President Buchanan to Queen Victoria.
03:21
And it ends like this: "This telegraph
03:25
is a fantastic instrument to diffuse religion,
03:28
civilization, liberty and law throughout the world."
03:30
Those are nice words. But I got sort of curious
03:34
of what he meant with liberty, and liberty for whom.
03:37
And we will think about that
03:41
when we look at the wider picture of the world in 1858.
03:43
Because 1858
03:47
was also watershed year
03:49
in the history of Asia.
03:52
1858 was the year
03:54
when the courageous uprising
03:56
against the foreign occupation of India
03:58
was defeated by the British forces.
04:01
And India was up to 89 years more of foreign domination.
04:03
1858 in China
04:08
was the victory in the Opium War by the British forces.
04:10
And that meant that foreigners, as it said in the treaty,
04:14
were allowed to trade freely in China.
04:17
It meant paying with opium for Chinese goods.
04:19
And 1858 in Japan
04:23
was the year when Japan had to sign the Harris Treaty
04:25
and accept trade on favorable condition for the U.S.
04:28
And they were threatened by those black ships there,
04:32
that had been in Tokyo harbor over the last year.
04:36
But, Japan, in contrast to India and China,
04:38
maintained its national sovereignty.
04:42
And let's see how much difference that can make.
04:45
And I will do that by bringing these bubbles
04:48
back to a Gapminder graph here,
04:51
where you can see each bubble is a country.
04:53
The size of the bubble here is the population.
04:56
On this axis, as I used to have income per person in comparable dollar.
04:59
And on that axis I have life expectancy, the health of people.
05:04
And I also bring an innovation here.
05:08
I have transformed the laser beam
05:10
into an ecological, recyclable version here, in green India.
05:13
(Applause)
05:18
And we will see, you know.
05:22
Look here, 1858, India was here,
05:25
China was here, Japan was there,
05:28
United States and United Kingdom
05:30
was richer over there.
05:32
And I will start the world like this.
05:34
India was not always like this level.
05:37
Actually if we go back into the historical record,
05:39
there was a time hundreds of years ago
05:41
when the income per person in India and China
05:43
was even above that of Europe.
05:45
But 1850 had already been many, many years of foreign domination,
05:47
and India had been de-industrialized.
05:51
And you can see that the countries who were growing
05:54
their economy was United States and United Kingdom.
05:56
And they were also, by the end of the century, getting healthy,
05:58
and Japan was starting to catch up.
06:01
India was trying down here.
06:03
Can you see how it starts to move there?
06:05
But really, really natural sovereignty was good for Japan.
06:07
And Japan is trying to move up there.
06:11
And it's the new century now. Health is getting better,
06:13
United Kingdom, United States.
06:15
But careful now -- we are approaching the First World War.
06:17
And the First World War, you know,
06:20
we'll see a lot of deaths and economical problems here.
06:22
United Kingdom is going down.
06:26
And now comes the Spanish flu also.
06:28
And then after the First World War, they continue up.
06:30
Still under foreign domination, and without sovereignty,
06:33
India and China are down in the corner.
06:36
Not much has happened.
06:38
They have grown their population but not much more.
06:40
In the 1930's now, you can see
06:42
that Japan is going to a period of war,
06:44
with lower life expectancy.
06:47
And the Second World War was really a terrible event,
06:49
also economically for Japan.
06:51
But they did recover quite fast afterwards.
06:53
And we are moving into the new world.
06:55
In 1947 India finally
06:57
gained its independence.
07:00
And they could raise the Indian flag and become a sovereign nation,
07:02
but in very big difficulties down there.
07:06
(Applause)
07:09
In 1949 we saw the emergence of the modern China
07:12
in a way which surprised the world.
07:16
And what happened?
07:18
What happens in the after independence?
07:20
You can see that the health started to improve.
07:22
Children started to go to school.
07:24
Health services were provided.
07:26
This is the Great Leap Forward, when China fell down.
07:28
It was central planning by Mao Tse Tung.
07:32
China recovered. Then they said,
07:34
"Nevermore, stupid central planning."
07:36
But they went up here, and India was trying to follow.
07:38
And they were catching up indeed.
07:41
And both countries had the better health, but still
07:43
a very low economy.
07:45
And we came to 1978, and Mao Tse Tung died,
07:47
and a new guy turned up from the left.
07:50
And it was Deng Xiaoping coming out here.
07:53
And he said, "Doesn't matter
07:56
if a cat is white or black,
07:58
as long as it catches mice."
08:00
Because catching mice
08:02
is what the two cats wanted to do.
08:04
And you can see the two cats being here,
08:07
China and India, wanting to catch the mices over there, you know.
08:10
And they decided to go not only for health and education,
08:13
but also starting to grow their economy.
08:16
And the market reformer was successful there.
08:18
In '92 India follows with a market reform.
08:20
And they go quite closely together,
08:23
and you can see that the similarity with India and China,
08:25
in many ways, are greater than the differences with them.
08:27
And here they march on. And will they catch up?
08:30
This is the big question today.
08:32
There they are today.
08:34
Now what does it mean that the --
08:36
(Applause)
08:38
the averages there -- this is the average of China.
08:41
If I would split China, look here,
08:44
Shanghai has already catched up.
08:46
Shanghai is already there.
08:49
And it's healthier than the United States.
08:51
But on the other hand, Guizhou, one of the poorest
08:55
inland provinces of China, is there.
08:58
And if I split Guizhou into urban and rural,
09:01
the rural part of Guizhou goes down there.
09:05
You see this enormous inequity in China,
09:08
in the midst of fast economic growth.
09:11
And if I would also look at India,
09:13
you have another type of inequity, actually, in India.
09:15
The geographical, macro-geographical difference is not so big.
09:18
Uttar Pradesh, the biggest of the states here,
09:23
is poorer and has a lower health than the rest of India.
09:25
Kerala is flying on top there,
09:28
matching United States in health,
09:31
but not in economy.
09:33
And here, Maharashtra, with Mumbai,
09:35
is forging forward.
09:37
Now in India, the big inequities are within the state,
09:39
rather than between the states.
09:42
And that is not a bad thing, in itself.
09:44
If you have a lot inequity, macro-geographical inequities
09:47
can be more difficult in the long term to deal with,
09:51
than if it is in the same area where you have a growth center
09:54
relatively close to where poor people are living.
09:57
No, there is one more inequity. Look there, United States.
10:00
(Laughter)
10:03
Oh, they broke my frame.
10:04
Washington, D.C. went out here.
10:06
My friends at Gapminder wanted me to show this
10:09
because there is a new leader in Washington
10:12
who is really concerned about the health system.
10:14
And I can understand him, because Washington, D.C.
10:16
is so rich over there
10:19
but they are not as healthy as Kerala.
10:22
It's quite interesting, isn't it?
10:24
(Applause)
10:26
I can see a business opportunity for Kerala,
10:31
helping fix the health system in the United States.
10:34
(Laughter)
10:36
(Applause)
10:38
Now here we have the whole world. You have the legend down there.
10:40
And when you see the two giant cats here, pushing forward,
10:43
you see that in between them
10:47
and ahead of them,
10:49
is the whole emerging economies of the world,
10:51
which Thomas Friedman so correctly called the "flat world."
10:53
You can see that in health and education,
10:57
a large part of the world population is putting forward,
10:59
but in Africa, and other parts,
11:02
as in rural Guizhou in China,
11:04
there is still people with low health and very low economy.
11:06
We have an enormous disparity in the world.
11:09
But most of the world in the middle are pushing forwards very fast.
11:11
Now, back to my projections.
11:16
When will it catch up? I have to go back to very conventional graph.
11:18
I will show income per person on this axis instead,
11:23
poor down here, rich up there.
11:26
And then time here, from 1858
11:28
I start the world.
11:30
And we shall see what will happen with these countries.
11:32
You see, China under foreign domination
11:35
actually lowered their income and came down to the Indian level here.
11:38
Whereas U.K. and United States is getting richer and richer.
11:41
And after Second World War, United States is richer than U.K.
11:45
But independence is coming here.
11:48
Growth is starting, economic reform.
11:50
Growth is faster, and with projection from IMF
11:52
you can see where you expect them to be in 2014.
11:55
Now, the question is, "When will the catch up take place?"
11:59
Look at, look at the United States.
12:04
Can you see the bubble?
12:06
The bubbles, not my bubbles,
12:08
but the financial bubbles.
12:10
That's the dot com bubble. This is the Lehman Brothers doorstep there.
12:12
You see it came down there.
12:17
And it seems this is another rock coming down there, you know.
12:19
So they doesn't seem to go this way, these countries.
12:24
They seem to go in a more humble growth way, you know.
12:27
And people interested in growth
12:30
are turning their eyes towards Asia.
12:32
I can compare to Japan. This is Japan coming up.
12:35
You see, Japan did it like that.
12:38
We add Japan to it.
12:40
And there is no doubt that fast catch up
12:42
can take place.
12:45
Can you see here what Japan did?
12:47
Japan did it like this, until full catch up,
12:49
and then they follow with the other high-income economies.
12:51
But the real projections for those ones,
12:55
I would like to give it like this.
12:58
Can be worse, can be better.
13:03
It's always difficult to predict, especially about the future.
13:05
Now, a historian tells me it's even more difficult to predict about the past.
13:09
(Laughter)
13:12
I think I'm in a difficult position here.
13:14
Inequalities in China and India
13:17
I consider really the big obstacle
13:19
because to bring the entire population into growth and prosperity
13:23
is what will create a domestic market,
13:27
what will avoid social instability,
13:29
and which will make use of the entire capacity
13:32
of the population.
13:35
So, social investments in health, education and infrastructure,
13:37
and electricity is really what is needed in India and China.
13:41
You know the climate. We have great international experts
13:47
within India telling us that the climate is changing,
13:50
and actions has to be taken,
13:53
otherwise China and India would be the countries
13:55
most to suffer from climate change.
13:58
And I consider India and China the best partners in the world
14:00
in a good global climate policy.
14:03
But they ain't going to pay
14:06
for what others, who have more money,
14:08
have largely created, and I can agree on that.
14:10
But what I'm really worried about is war.
14:13
Will the former rich countries really accept
14:16
a completely changed world economy,
14:18
and a shift of power away from where it has been
14:21
the last 50 to 100 to 150 years,
14:24
back to Asia?
14:26
And will Asia be able to handle that
14:28
new position of being in charge
14:30
of being the most mighty, and the governors of the world?
14:32
So, always avoid war,
14:35
because that always pushes human beings backward.
14:37
Now if these inequalities, climate and war can be avoided,
14:40
get ready for a world in equity,
14:44
because this is what seems to be happening.
14:47
And that vision that I got as a young student,
14:50
1972, that Indians can be much better than Swedes,
14:52
is just about to happen.
14:58
And it will happen precisely
15:00
the year 2048
15:03
in the later part of the summer, in July,
15:07
more precisely, the 27th of July.
15:10
(Applause)
15:13
The 27th of July, 2048
15:21
is my 100th birthday.
15:25
(Laughter)
15:27
And I expect to speak
15:29
in the first session of the 39th TED India.
15:31
Get your bookings in time. Thank you very much.
15:35
(Applause)
15:38

sponsored links

Hans Rosling - Global health expert; data visionary
In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus.

Why you should listen

Even the most worldly and well-traveled among us will have their perspectives shifted by Hans Rosling. A professor of global health at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, his current work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world, which (he points out) is no longer worlds away from the West. In fact, most of the Third World is on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity, and many countries are moving twice as fast as the west did.

What sets Rosling apart isn't just his apt observations of broad social and economic trends, but the stunning way he presents them. Guaranteed: You've never seen data presented like this. By any logic, a presentation that tracks global health and poverty trends should be, in a word: boring. But in Rosling's hands, data sings. Trends come to life. And the big picture — usually hazy at best — snaps into sharp focus.

Rosling's presentations are grounded in solid statistics (often drawn from United Nations data), illustrated by the visualization software he developed. The animations transform development statistics into moving bubbles and flowing curves that make global trends clear, intuitive and even playful. During his legendary presentations, Rosling takes this one step farther, narrating the animations with a sportscaster's flair.

Rosling developed the breakthrough software behind his visualizations through his nonprofit Gapminder, founded with his son and daughter-in-law. The free software — which can be loaded with any data — was purchased by Google in March 2007. (Rosling met the Google founders at TED.)

Rosling began his wide-ranging career as a physician, spending many years in rural Africa tracking a rare paralytic disease (which he named konzo) and discovering its cause: hunger and badly processed cassava. He co-founded Médecins sans Frontièrs (Doctors without Borders) Sweden, wrote a textbook on global health, and as a professor at the Karolinska Institut in Stockholm initiated key international research collaborations. He's also personally argued with many heads of state, including Fidel Castro.

As if all this weren't enough, the irrepressible Rosling is also an accomplished sword-swallower — a skill he demonstrated at TED2007.


The original video is available on TED.com
sponsored links

If you need translations, you can install "Google Translate" extension into your Chrome Browser.
Furthermore, you can change playback rate by installing "Video Speed Controller" extension.

Data provided by TED.

This website is owned and operated by Tokyo English Network.
The developer's blog is here.