The Disappearance of Childhood

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.
(The Disappearance of Childhood, Neil Postman)

In the previous post I showed a map of the global distribution of malnutrition among the youngest children. To complete this picture, I used the same subnational Global Poverty Data from SEDAC and combined the data about the proportion of children with the total population (derived from the GPW database). Where information was missing, I used information from the national-level UN World Population Prospects to complete the data and generated a grid of the global distribution of children on a subnational level. The result of this is a new gridded cartogram display of the world’s children (aged under 5) which shows each grid cell resized according to the total number of children living there (as in many world maps on this website, I use the worldmapper colour scheme for the countries which makes the map easier to read). The following map therefore gives every child under the age of five the same amount of space, with additional information about the variation beyond the country borders. This is today’s world of children:

Map / Gridded Cartogram of Children in the World
(click for larger map)

Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
(Better Health for Our Children, 1981 Report of the US Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health)

The map of the world’s youngest children is not only a picture of hope, even if we regard children as a symbol for the future of the planet (perhaps more the future of humanity). According to the World Population Prospects, approximately 27% of the world’s population are children aged under 15. The youngest of them aged under 5 (shown in the above map) make about 1% of the current population, and soon we’ll be celebrating one arriving in this age group as the 7th billion living person on the planet. How many of those will be surviving childhood is a different story, and is the story of an unequal world: Survival very much depends on the place where they are born – geography matters a lot when it comes to future prospects. Malnutrition demonstrates just one, yet very severe, issue related to child poverty that takes the future hopes of millions of children in the poorer regions of the world. The following map animation therefore stands as one example how polarised these realities are in the world. It shows a map transformation from a gridded cartogram of the world’s children (aged under five) and a gridded cartogram of the prevalence of malnutrition in that age group. This is the picture of where many childhoods are lost before they even started:

Map Animation / Gridded Cartograms of Global Child Malnutrition and the Distribution of Children
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