Bloomberg created a data presentation titled “The Real Cost of Filling Up: Gasoline Prices by Country,” which includes data on gas prices, gas consumption, and income. Each country is represented by a line ranked in three ways: the numeric gas price, the gas price as a fraction of a day’s wage, and the fraction of income spent on gasoline. This visualization is designed for Bloomberg readers interested in global economics and gas prices. This is reasonable, given that Bloomberg mainly deals with economics and business.
The goal of this data presentation is to represent worldwide gas prices in a different light, which highlights the global differences in the affordability of gas. Simply comparing raw gas prices tells one story, but comparing the fraction of a day’s wage required to buy a gallon of gas tells another story. For example, according to the graphic, gas was $2.74/gallon in the US and $3.95/gallon in India. This makes it seem that gas in India is quite affordable. However, a gallon of gas costs less than 2% of a day’s wage in the US, while it costs almost 80% of a day’s wage in India. This comparison gives a drastically different picture.
I think that this visualization is somewhat effective, but can be better. I like that the visualization portrays multiple ways of comparing gas prices across countries. However, it is significantly lacking in that it takes quite a bit of time and effort to get the most out of this visualization. Since the labels for at most two countries can be highlighted at one time, a substantial amount of clicking around is required to compare more than two countries.