In graphics: Rising Asia

The BBC's Power of Asia season examines how economies in the region have changed over the past 30 years. Use the chart builder below to compare countries in terms of wealth, health, life expectancy, education and energy consumption.

As Asia's wealth increases, how much longer are people living?
Income per person (US$)

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1. Choose what to see from the menus above - eg GDP vs Health

2. Select the countries you want to compare on the right

3. Replay the graph using the play button below

4. Explore the graph over time using the selector below


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Average life expectancy at birth
Power of Asia logo

The huge growth of Asian economies, driven by exporting products to developed western economies, has meant a complete shift in the economic landscape in recent decades.

Rising prosperity across Asia has also led to huge social changes, with people from rural areas migrating to urban centres and this rapid urbanisation creating cities that exhibit vast differences in wealth and lifestyle.

Using the graph above you can get an idea of how this new wealth has had an impact on social factors such as health and education in different countries across the region.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy is one of the traditional indicators of health but it is also an indicator of both wealth and government investment in healthcare. Where two countries have a similar level of GDP but one has a higher life expectancy, government spending on healthcare is likely to be the major factor in that difference.


Access to a doctor is an important factor in a country's health, as a greater number of doctors leads to wider immunization and lower infant mortality. However, there is often a concentration of provision within cities, with more limited access to medical professionals in more sparsely populated areas. For example, in Thailand there are eight times as many doctors per person in Bangkok compared with some rural regions.


An educated workforce is essential in allowing developing economies to compete in major growth industries, such as IT and advanced manufacturing. However, the figures in our chart show the education of young women, so they also give an idea of the levels of social equality within a country. The education of women tends to lag behind the education opportunities available to men of a similar age.


Economic growth and energy consumption are closely related and also indicate an increase in the standard of living throughout the population. Growth in energy use indicates improvements in a country's agriculture, transport, industry, and domestic energy supply. For individual households it can mean improvements in quality of life as people move from burning their own traditional fuels to an electrical supply.

About the data

Figures for GDP (adjusted for inflation) and Income per person (adjusted for inflation and comparable cost of living (Purchasing Power Parities)) can be found at You can also read about the sources they used and how their data was compiled.

Gapminder also has the data for other indicators featured in our charts, or you can find it at the original sources:

Life expectancy: UN, World Population Prospects

Health - Doctors per 1,000: World Bank, World Development Indicators

Education - School years for women 15 - 44: Institute for Healthmetrics and Evaluation

Energy - Energy use per person: International Energy Agency, via World Bank

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