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World Map of Remoteness vs. Connectedness (HT Tyler Cowen)



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  1. Smee wrote:

    Oh, this map is marvelous, wondrously simple, and beautiful.

    The U.S. is even a bit darker than I expected.

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 1:32 am | Permalink
  2. Smee wrote:

    Of course, helicopters and boys in weather balloons are exempt from this map.

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 1:36 am | Permalink
  3. Jim wrote:

    In short: geography matters.

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 4:33 am | Permalink
  4. Rob wrote:

    … or rather, geography doesn’t matter so much any more. Just think how much darker most of this map would have been 50 or 100 years ago.

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  5. Bruno wrote:

    Very interesting visualization.

    How did you calculate the travel time (for the coloring) and can you tell me where to find the shipping data?


    Posted December 27, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  6. William Easterly wrote:

    Sorry, I forgot to put the link to the original source, which can answer some of your questions:

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  7. Joan McKniff wrote:

    based on my experience working in Madagascar, i expected it to be darker. fascinating map. thanks.

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  8. Gabriel wrote:

    Here’s the original source, with documentation, etc.:

    Posted December 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
  9. Jim wrote:


    Reports of the ‘death of distance’ have been greatly exaggerated. From Jacks (2009) ‘On the death of distance and borders’:

    Berthelon and Freund (2008) find corroborating evidence in highly disaggregated trade data, suggesting that distance-related trade costs have been on the rise in recent years, rather than falling as has often been assumed. Adding support to this view, Carrère and Schiff (2005) argue that a trade-weighted measure of the distance separating trade partners (or distance-of-trade) has been falling from the 1960s. Finally, Disdier and Head (2008) collect over 1000 estimated distance coefficients from 78 previous studies and perform a meta-analysis. Their results are rather stark: the estimated distance coefficient has been on the rise from 1950, suggesting that there has been an exaggerated sense of the death of distance.

    It’s possible that these findings are partly due to drops in unit transport costs being offset by increases in the importance of proximity for productivity, e.g. in creative or financial services. But distance definitely still matters a great deal for trade and therefore for development. The map above hides this somewhat by treating all ‘major cities’ as equal, when of course they are not. A map of travel time to cities weighted by income or GDP would look very different.

    Posted December 28, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  10. Michael M. Butler wrote: describes the methodology for creating the shown map. The main page does contain this caveat: “Accessibility maps are made for a specific purpose and they cannot be used as a generic dataset to represent ‘the’ accessibility for a given study area.”

    Posted December 29, 2009 at 6:08 am | Permalink
  11. Raph wrote:

    Very surprised by India’s colour. How can it be so light?

    Posted December 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  12. Boulderfield wrote:

    Raph wrote:
    Very surprised by India’s colour. How can it be so light?
    Raph, the color of the map represents travel time to “major cities”, i.e. cities with 50,000 people or more. I guess there are plenty of such cities on the Indian Subcontinent.

    Like in every other simplification, it is important to know the assumptions. E.g. if someone says “only 10% of the Earth’s land area is wilderness” we also need to know that the statement was based on a definition of “more than 48 hours travel from a large city”. Most urban dwellers will find plenty of “wilderness” much closer than 48 hours (and often exhibit their ability to get in deep trouble in such wilderness).

    Posted December 31, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

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  3. By Fun Links from the Past Week « The Everyday Idealist on December 28, 2009 at 10:07 pm

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