Category Archives: Data

Great Britain and the European Union of 27

EU27-UK Flow

This latest visualization has its genesis in this reddit thread. I wanted to represent the data therein in a way that would be easier to compare than a print-screen of an Excel table. As time went by, I found more detailed and accurate data, and I started looking at a way in which I could represent the relationship between the UK and the EU27 from the angle of the Four Freedoms :

1. Free Movement of Goods and 2. Services – The main focus of my visualization. Talk about Britain’s future relationship with the EU has often revolved around how free the trade will be and how high the risk of barriers will be. While the flow of goods has been much easier to free than that of services, and will be much easier to keep unrestricted in the post-Brexit world, I treated the two as somewhat two sides of the coin called Trade. A challenge of this infographic was to visualize both the absolute values, and the relative values to each other (imports vs exports, goods vs. services, UK-to-EU27 trade vs. global national trade)

3. Free Movement of People – Easily the most controversial of the Freedoms, at least in the United Kingdom, and a somewhat thorny subject in the early stages of negotiations, the size of Immigrant / Emigrant communities can inform on which countries might have strong incentives to protect their diaspora during negotiations.

4. Free Movement of Capital – By far the one I grasp the least, I limited myself to showing which countries are members of the Eurozone, and which ones still use their national currencies.

Made with Python (svgwrite module) and Inkscape. Data from Eurostat

EU freedom of movement (from East to West)

The Free Movement of People within the European Union has become one of the hot topics surrounding the whole Brexit debate, and the following graph was born out of the desire to explore the relationship between intra-EU work restrictions on new members, and the growth dynamics of the number of immigrants from these new Eastern European states.

The initial idea was to compare the evolution of the number of New EU citizens in the Old EU member states, and especially between the the Big Three – Germany, Britain and France -, who each imposed different levels of restrictions on the 2004 wave of new member states – the wave that gave the world the image of the infamous “Polish plumber”. I wanted to see how much the presence or absence of work-restrictions slowed down immigration from the East.

Here are some of the findings:

  1. The UK is the only country where immigrants from EU-8 (the 2004 wave) grew as fast as those from EU-2 (Romania and Bulgaria). This later wave tended to be bigger in all countries, except the UK (and the 2013 wave, i.e. Croatia, tended to be between the two when it comes to growth)
  2. Work restrictions don’t seem to be the only factor in the rate of growth, but accession is clearly a tipping point when immigration accelerates. The removal of work-restrictions however are noticeable only in some cases (in Austria most clearly)
  3. I was surprised to see much calmer growth post-accession into Germany and Italy, but that is also due to already having larger numbers of immigrants from said countries before those countries joined the EU. The UK and Germany both ended up with 1+ million Central Europeans after 9 years, but they started out out from different base populations (136k vs. 481k)

One immediate problem that prevented me from a broader analysis was the lack of available data in some countries due to different methodologies. France, for example, does not, to my knowledge, publish an estimate on a country by country basis, the EU immigrants being divided solely into “Spain, Portugal, Italy, rest of the EU”, while other countries don’t go far enough into the past to be useful. True to stereotype, the most rigorous seem to be the Germanic nations, which is somewhat fortunate since German-speaking countries and Scandinavian ones are preferred destinations of intra-EU migration. Also, the numbers in Italy after 2011 are based on the census of 2011, but the data before that year, overestimating the number of immigrants, hasn’t been revised, and I had to revise the data myself, so as to not have an odd sudden drop around 2011.


Made in Python w/ Matplotlib (lineplots), LibreCalc (work restriction viz) and Inkscape.

Winter vacation

This December I went home to Romania for the first time after having emigrated to France 15 months prior. I took 3 weeks off from work to have time to visit as many relatives and friends as possible, and spend my winter holidays with my parents and siblings.

At the same time, I received Giorgia Lupi’s and Stefanie Posavec’s breathtaking book as a Christmas gift from my wife, and it inspired me to seek a ‘small and personal data’ project of my own. Since, out of necessity, I already started collecting data during my vacation on who I’d already met and who I still have to meet, I thought it’s a good starting point.

I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to seek out a different subject every month, or if I’m going to explore alternative ways of visualizing the data shown below. I went through numerous forms, before deciding that a musical-notation type visualization feels best for my data, but I’d like to further explore my previous ideas as well. Until I decide on the issue, enjoy this small experiment:


Made in Inkscape.

The curious case of Romania’s Gheorghe Doja streets

Having streets in Hungary named after a Hungarian historical figure is nothing unusual. It’s by no means that unheard of to have streets in neighboring countries bear said name, provided  that we’re talking about areas where ethnic Hungarians make up a significant slice of the population. But what sets Dózsa György apart is that his name was used to christen street all across Romania, including many town where few, if any, Hungarians have lived. A weird relic of early communist times, when revolutionary credentials were more important than national origin…


Made in QGIS and Inkscape.
Data: OpenStreetMap and the Romanian Permanent Electoral Authority

Romanian version: Link

Federalist sentiment in the European Union

The imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has raised some important questions regarding the future of the EU. Given that the member state which, for a long time, has been seen as the most obtrusive is on its way to triggering Article 50, a lot of people have expressed hope that the federalist direction of EU reforms can now progress in a more unimpeded fashion. Others have rightly warned that Euroskeptic sentiment was not confined to the UK and other states might be less than happy to hand over more sovereignty to the European level.

In trying to find an answer to the question “Who’ll be the next Great Britain at the table”, the EU’s Standard Eurobarometer collection offers some strong hints. Unfortunately, only 4 such Eurobarometers contain questions relating to willingness to move towards a “federation of nation-states”, as the question was discontinued after spring 2014.


Some interesting patterns can however be noticed:

  • The Nordic countries are the most anti-federalist, even more so than the UK, with ‘No’ always at least double the size of ‘Yes’
  • Ireland, surprisingly, never had ‘Yes’ outnumber ‘No’, albeit the difference was small
  • Most member states hover around the center, with a slightly positive dent in the score
  • The public opinion of Hungary and Poland is more federalist than their current governments’ reputation would lead to believe

On the other hand, one should be careful in drawing conclusions, as:

  • Scandinavian Euroskepticism might be different to British Euroskepticism
  • The question is somewhat ambiguous, as some might see a contradiction between “a federation” and “nation-states”
  • There are only 4 Eurobarometers, so the picture might be incomplete or outdated

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the “smooth sailing towards Federalism” envisaged by some is nowhere near the horizon, and we might soon see a Nordic Group giving headaches in the EU Council, when discussion the EU’s Future.

Infographic made in QGIS, Inkscape and Veusz. Data via the 78-81 Eurobarometers

Romania: Education by ethnicity, religion and country of birth

The Romanian Census of 2011 has produced a lot of information regarding the country’s inhabitants. One such interesting statistic that I stumbled across is the level of education of the population (aged 10 or above) broken down by ethnic affiliation and by religious denomination, as well as that of foreign residents.

Romania Education Ethnicity 2

Looking at ethnic breakdowns, one of the first things that is noticeable is that the numbers for Roma shift heavily towards the lower end of the spectrum. They are 10 times more likely to be illiterate (defined as “people who do not know how to write, but may or may not know how to read”), but also have higher than the national average “primary only” and “secondary only” education; while at the other end of the spectrum they are 18 times less likely to have a Bachelor’s degree.

While this “education deficit” of the Roma population is general knowledge, one interesting find in the data is that the Turkish minority has an almost similar skew towards the lower end of the spectrum (second highest rate of illiteracy, with more than 1 in 10 being illiterate, almost 8 times the national average), although the number of Turks with higher education is significantly higher (9.2%) than the Roma with such a degree (0.7%).

Interestingly enough, the other Muslim minority of Dobruja, the Tatars, are very different from the Turks. The overall numbers are close to the national average, with a slight skew towards the positive (a bit more higher-educated people, a bit lower numbers of people who cannot write).

On the other end of the spectrum (low illiteracy, very high levels of higher education) one finds the Jews (over half being college educated), the Armenians, and to a lesser degree the Greeks, the Italians and the heterogeneous “Other” group. What probably distinguishes these ethnic groups is probably their historic status as “mercantile minorities”, usually found in urban areas (cities usually have higher levels of education compared to the countryside).

While Serbs and Bulgarians tend to have a profile similar to ethnic Romanians, Ukrainians, Croats, Czechs and Slovaks tend to have higher rates than the national average in the ‘Secondary Education’ cathegory, while having lower rates at the extremes (college and no/primary education). This might be connected to them inhabiting mostly rural, mountainous areas.

Romania Education Religion 2

When it comes to religious breakdown, the highest numbers of people with primary education or less are Muslims (due to the low rates among Turks and Muslim Roma) and Pentecostals (a denomination which also has many Roma converts). But while Muslims have average levels of college education, college graduates of the Pentecostal persuasion are just a third of the national rate, with small rates of high-school graduates as well. Many evangelical denominations also display lower than average higher education graduation rates, such as the 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Plymouth Brethren but interestingly enough, not the Baptists or the Romanian Evangelicals.

The traditional Hungarian denominations (Roman-Catholics, Reformed, Unitarians and Evangelical Lutherans) on the other hand tend to display lower college rates but higher levels of secondary schooling, especially vocational training.

On the other end of the spectrum we find Jews and Armenians once again, together with Atheists and those who declared No Religion (the Romanian census treats the two options as distinct). This fits in the general trend of the worldwide irreligiosity being correlated with higher levels of education.

One last interesting quirk is the higher than average post-high-school education among the Greek-Catholics. Reasons for this might be either their tradition of being an important part of the Transylvanian-Romanian intellectual elite, or a more pronounced tendency of the intellectuals to revert back to the Greek-Catholic identity after the church was legalized again post-1989 (the Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed and its assets given to the Orthodox Church by the Communist authorities in 1948).

Romania Education Foreigners 2
Foreigners in Romania

The last visualization features roughly the same stats (minus rates of illiteracy and Bachelor’s only education) for people residing in Romania for more than 12 months at the time of the census.

The biggest surprise in the data is that all of the foreigners have rates of higher education above the Romanian average, with the notable exception of Tunisians, which are one percentage point below, which also displays a very rate of high-school-only educational level. Western Europeans, Middle Easterners, Ukrainians and first and foremost Americans all display levels of higher education at least twice as high as Romanian citizens.

This is probably due to the restricted levels of immigration, which have seen mostly „western expats” moving here due to work-related reasons, or the traditional „arab (medical) student” choosing to remain in the country after graduation.

Data: Romanian census of 2011
Made in LibreOffice Calc and Inkscape

Eastern EU’s role in the Refugee Crisis

The idea that the West is to blame for the current wave of refugees is widespread in the Eastern part of the EU, with the US invasion of Iraq and Germany’s alleged decision to invite Syrians into Europe seen as key events of the unfolding crisis.

Czech president Miloš Zeman said last year that “the immigration wave is rooted in the crazy idea to invade Iraq […] [T]hen there was the crazy idea to make order in Libya, then the same in the case of Syria.”[…] “The responsibility for the wave of refugees lies precisely on those whose silly actions provoked this wave”

A similar thought was uttered by Slovak prime-minister Robert Fico around the same time when he said: “I only have one question: Who bombed Libya? Who created problems in North Africa? Slovakia? No.”.

It is a classic expression of the “victims of history” motif, so dear in these parts, but on closer scrutiny, it holds little water.


Eastern EU states have actually been willing actors in the destabilization of Iraq with Poland actively participating alongside the United States in the Iraq invasion, while most other countries supporting the invasion and later participating in the occupation. The Eastern flank of the EU acted in Syria too, both diplomatically – by recognizing the Syrian Opposition as legitimate – and militarily, by providing military aid to anti-ISIL factions. Romania and Bulgaria also participated in the UN-sanctioned anti-Ghaddafi campaign of 2011, which ultimately lead to a politically fractured Libya unable to stop trans-Mediterranean migrant smuggling, and the entrenchment of ISIL in some areas of Central and Eastern Libya.

While I do not oppose the interventions themselves (with the exception of the original Iraq invasion), I do have great issue with the demonstrably false narrative that the Eastern EU states are victims of Western geopolitical action, and not willing participants themselves. It is profoundly incorrect to benefit from close collaboration with US adventures abroad (the cooperation during the Iraq War was very beneficial in obtaining the American good will necessary for NATO membership), yet shun the responsibilities when the chickens come home to roost.

UK’s trade with the EU

As the debate around the UK’s membership in the EU grows, an argument often used by the pro-Brexit side is that the EU will pursue a very pro-trade policy post-Brexit given that the EU exports more to the the UK than vice-versa, an thus, it’s in the rEU’s interest to give the UK a very generous trade agreement.

The counter-argument to this is that while the EU does indeed export more, its exports of goods to the UK represent only 15% of all exports, while the UK’s exports to the Union comprise 48% of its exports, a much bigger share, thus making the UK much more vulnerable in the case of a Brexit, given that it would be in rEU’s self interest to play hard-ball with the UK, in order to discourage its own disintegration.

The following 2 charts aim to visualize the above. The first chart compares trade in goods (for 2014) and services (for 2013) and the second one compares only the trade in goods, with the additional perspective of the intra-rEU trade between states.

Chart 1. Exports of goods and services of the rEU and UK


Chart 2. Exports of goods of the rEU and UK


Data from Eurostat. Made in Inkscape.

Fenomenul “strada Gheorghe Doja”


În localitatea Sebiș, din județul Arad, vizavi de primăria cea modernă, în miezul unui sens giratoriu unde asfaltul a fost de mult înlocuit cu pișcoți, se înalță o statuie cu o tânără domniță, simbolizând, probabil, un măreț ideal. Pe soclul statuii, trei de-o parte, trei de alta, se văd șase medalioane cu chipurile unor personaje de vază ale istoriei românești: Mihai Viteazul, Constantin Brâncoveanul, Avram Iancu, Horea, Decebal și… Dózsa György.

Secuiul Gheorghe Doja e un element interesant al istoriei românești, căci, la fel ca sărbătoarea de „1 Mai muncitoresc”, este lăsată moștenire de comuniști, da nu deranjează pe nimeni. A apărut în manuale în perioada lui Dej, că era bun și pe latura ideologică (era contra „moșierilor”), și pe cea pragmatică (dădea bine la minoritatea maghiară, curtată pe-atunci de comuniști). Când a venit perioada naționalistă a lui Ceaușescu, s-a trecut peste detaliul etniei, și s-a marșat doar pe partea ideologică, iar după ’89 a rămas din inerție. La urma urmei, noi știm că atunci când țărănimea se răscula în Ardeal o făcea contra „grofilor maghiari”, precum au făcut Horea, Cloșca și Crișan sau Avram Iancu, așa că și Gheorghe Doja, lider de răscoală, tot din același film trebuia să fie…

Doja Vertical
Hărți realizate în QGIS și Inkscape.
Date: OpenStreetMap și Autoritatea Electorală Permanentă