World Birth Rate Visualization

babies falling against a blue sky

To answer the need to create the first meaningful data visualization with my rain animation library Sprinkler.js, I needed a topic. The topic had to deal with a large number that grows at a known rate. Large numbers are hard for people to understand in correct proportions and thus remain quite abstract. A visualisation that uses concrete objects can help people to understand the magnitude of the phenomenon the numbers represent.

Therefore, the global population growth was a sound choice. The population growth rate has three components: the birth rate, death rate, and migration. I wanted to focus on the funniest one, the birth rate. Almost eight billion people in the world, reproducing new people all the time. Without actual knowledge, it is hard to imagine the rate of babies born each second. Is it like a baby now and then or like a constant stream of thousands of new people? I had no clue.

Fortunately, the World Factbook, maintained by CIA, provided a reliable-enough source for numbers of birth rates all over the world. For my surprise, the data contained numbers for each individual country as in births per a population of thousand. At first I had planned to just visualize the net birth rate. However, the fidelity of the date allowed more.

Human babies look quite similar. The skin tone is probably the most pronouncing feature. I wanted the rate visualization to be realistic and thus try to follow the real distribution of the tones too. After combining the birth rates with population sizes of each country, I grouped the results based on average skin tone of each country. The groups gave a rough estimate for the distribution of babies in the visualization.

My mother paints a lot and I asked her to draw a newborn baby. After digitizing her drawing and colouring each tone the material was ready. We only needed a sky pattern. At least in the western culture, the children are sometimes told that the cranes bring the new babies. Therefore it was only proper to let the newborns to fall from the sky. 🙂

Experience the finished animation at births.akselipalen.com

For more animations built with Sprinkler.js, see npmjs.com/package/sprinkler

Akseli Palén
Hi! I am a creative full-stack web developer and entrepreneur with strong focus on building open source packages for JavaScript community and helping people at StackOverflow. I studied information technology at Tampere University and graduated with distinction in 2016. I wish to make it easier for people to communicate because it is the only thing that makes us one.

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