Inspired by this Dilbert cartoon, for a bit of fun I decided to plot GDP as a percentage of national debt (from here, using IMF data) against mathematical ability for 15 years a while ago (from here). I kept it to European countries on the basis they would be at similar stages of development. Is poor mathematical competence in 2003 correlated with debt ridden nations 8 years later as Dogbert suggests?
Well, the results are shown below. Unsurprisingly, the answer in general is ‘no’. However, the three countries with the highest levels of national debt as a percentage of GDP (Portugal, Italy and Greece) also have nearly the worst ranks of mathematical ability. So perhaps Dogbert just has a limited market of those who are really bad at mathematics.
In case it isn’t obvious, this is just a bit of fun, not a serious proposition. Remember kids, correlation does not imply causality.
The raw data is below for anyone interested. Countries not in Europe or without data in either source are excluded.
|Country||Debt as % GDP||Upper Rank||Lower Rank||Avg Rank|