I am probably watching TV right now

I got an email from a gentlemen boasting labor data that even the Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn’t published yet!

Retale, a tool that helps you scour advertisements for deals in your area, has produced a cool infograph on what Americans are doing right now. It tells you what activities Americans are doing at different times of the day: at 9PM, 34% of Americans are watching TV, 7% are still working, etc…

average american

The data is pretty reliable, as it is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can even break down the graphs into various demographics: men, women, 45-54 year olds, retirees….

Even though I am not American, the model predicts correctly that I am watching TV right now. The TV is on in the background as I type this, so close enough.

Check out the infograph here.

Abbas Keshvani

CO2 Emissions per Dollar of GDP

For all the flak China receives about its greenhouse gas emissions, the average Chinese produces less than a third the amount of CO2 than his American counterpart. It just so happens that there are 1.3 billion Chinese, and 0.3 billion Americans, so China ends up producing more CO2.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon monoxide, are produced from burning petrol, growing rice, and raising cattle . These greenhouse gases let in sun rays, but do not let out the heat that the rays generate on earth. This results in a greenhouse effect, where global temperatures are purported to be rising as a result of human activities.

The below map shows the per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions per capita

Greenhouse Gas Emissions per capita

As you can see, the least damage is done by people in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. But these places also happen to be the poorest places: Because they don’t have much industry, they don’t churn out much CO2.

The below plot shows the correlation between poverty and green-ness. As you can see, each dollar of a rich person is attached to a smaller carbon cost than the dollar of a poor person. This is partially because rich people get most of their manufacturing done by poor people, but also because rich people are more environmentally conscious.

Plot: CO2 per Dollar vs. GDP per capita

Plot: CO2 per Dollar vs. GDP per capita

Lastly, here is a map of CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP, which shows how green different economies are:

CO2 Emissions per Dollar

CO2 Emissions per Dollar

CO2 emissions per Dollar of output are lowest in:

  • EU and Japan: highly regulated and environmentally conscious
  • sub-Saharan Africa: subsistence-based economies

…and highest in the industrializing economies of Asia.

Kudos to Brazilian output for being so green, despite the country’s middle-income status. Were these statistics to factor in the CO2 absorption from rainforests, Brazil and other equatorial countries would appear even greener.

Data from the Word Bank. Graphics produced on R.

Abbas Keshvani

University Rankings over Time

The QS Rankings are an influential score sheet of universities around the world. They are published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British research company based in London. The rankings for 2013 are out, and I have charted the rankings of this year’s top 10 over the last five years:


QS’s top 10 from 2008 to 2013; The label is the 2013 rank. Columbia is included because it was in the top 10 of 2008 and 2010.

Observations from this year’s ranking:

  • MIT (#1 in 2013) has shot up in the rankings. This is in line with the increasing demand for technical and computer science education. At Harvard, enrollment into the college’s introductory computer science course went up, from around 300 students in 2008 to almost 800 students in 2013!
  • Asia’s top scorer is National University of Singapore


How QS Ranks Universities

Method: How QS Ranks Universities

The QS Rankings produce an aggregate score, on a scale of 0-100, for each university. The aggregate score is a sum of six weighted scores:

  • Academic reputation: from a global survey of 62,000 academics (40%)
  • Student:Faculty ratio (20%)
  • Citations per Faculty: How many times the university’s research is cited in other sources on Scopus, a database of research (20%)
  • Employer reputation: from a global survey of 28,000 employers (20%)
  • Int’l Faculty (Students): proportion of faculty (students) from abroad (5% each)

Note that many of the universities are apart by tiny numbers (MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial are all within 1.3 points of each other), which increases the likelihood of bias or error influencing the ranking.

In any case, it appears futile to try and compare massive multi-disciplinary institutions by a single statistic.

However, larger trends – like MIT’s and Stanford’s ascendancy – are noteworthy.

Data from QS Ranking. Graphics produced on R.

Abbas Keshvani