Comparing mean values across OECD countries with ggplot

Packages we will need:

library(magrittr) # for pipes
library(ggrepel) # to stop overlapping labels
library(countrycode) # if you want create the ISO2C variable

I came across code for this graph by Tanya Shapiro on her github for #TidyTuesday.

Her graph compares Dr. Who actors and their average audience rating across their run as the Doctor on the show. So I have very liberally copied her code for my plot on OECD countries.

That is the beauty of TidyTuesday and the ability to be inspired and taught by other people’s code.

I originally was going to write a blog about how to download data from the OECD R package. However, my attempts to download the data leads to an unpleasant looking error and ends the donwload request.

I will try to work again on that blog in the future when the package is more established.

So, instead, I went to the OECD data website and just directly downloaded data on level of trust that citizens in each of the OECD countries feel about their governments.

Then I cleaned up the data in excel and used countrycode() to add ISO2 and country name data.

Click here to read more about the countrycode() package.

First I will only look at EU countries. I tried with all the countries from the OECD but it was quite crowded and hard to read.

I add region data from another dataset I have. This step is not necessary but I like to colour my graphs according to categories. This time I am choosing geographic regions.

my_df %<>%
  mutate(region = case_when(
    e_regiongeo == 1 ~ "Western",
    e_regiongeo == 2  ~ "Northern",
    e_regiongeo == 3  ~ "Southern", 
    e_regiongeo == 4  ~ "Eastern"))

To make the graph, we need two averages:

  1. The overall average trust level for all countries (avg_trust) and
  2. The average for each country across the years (country_avg_trust),
my_df %<>% 
  mutate(avg_trust = mean(trust, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  group_by(country_name) %>% 
  mutate(country_avg_trust = mean(trust, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%

When we plot the graph, we need a few geom arguments.

Along the x axis we have all the countries, and reorder them from most trusting of their goverments to least trusting.

We will color the points with one of the four geographic regions.

We use geom_jitter() rather than geom_point() for the different yearly trust values to make the graph a little more interesting.

I also make the sizes scaled to the year in the aes() argument. Again, I did this more to look interesting, rather than to convey too much information about the different values for trust across each country. But smaller circles are earlier years and grow larger for each susequent year.

The geom_hline() plots a vertical line to indicate the average trust level for all countries.

We then use the geom_segment() to horizontally connect the country’s individual average (the yend argument) to the total average (the y arguement). We can then easily see which countries are above or below the total average. The x and xend argument, we supply the country_name variable twice.

Next we use the geom_flag(), which comes from the ggflags package. In order to use this package, we need the ISO 2 character code for each country in lower case!

Click here to read more about the ggflags package.

my_df %>%
ggplot(aes(x = reorder(country_name, trust_score), y = trust_score, color = as.factor(region))) +
geom_jitter(aes(color = as.factor(region), size = year), alpha = 0.7, width = 0.15) +
geom_hline(aes(yintercept = avg_trust), color = "white", size = 2)+
geom_segment(aes(x = country_name, xend = country_name, y = country_avg_trust, yend = avg_trust), size = 2, color = "white") +
ggflags::geom_flag(aes(x = country_name, y = country_avg_trust, country = iso2), size = 10) + 
  coord_flip() + 
  scale_color_manual(values = c("#9a031e","#fb8b24","#5f0f40","#0f4c5c")) -> my_plot

Last we change the aesthetics of the graph with all the theme arguments!

my_plot +
 theme(panel.border = element_blank(),
        legend.position = "right",
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
        legend.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        axis.title = element_blank(),
        axis.text = element_text(color = "white", size = 20),
        text= element_text(size = 15, color = "white"),
        panel.grid.major.y = element_blank(),
        panel.grid.minor.y = element_blank(),
        panel.grid.major.x = element_blank(),
        panel.grid.minor.x = element_blank(),
        legend.key = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472")) +
  guides(colour = guide_legend(override.aes = list(size=10))) 

And that is the graph.

We can see that countries in southern Europe are less trusting of their governments than in other regions. Western countries seem to occupy the higher parts of the graph, with France being the least trusting of their government in the West.

There is a large variation in Northern countries. However, if we look at the countries, we can see that the Scandinavian countries are more trusting and the Baltic countries are among the least trusting. This shows they are more similar in their trust levels to other Post-Soviet countries.

Next we can look into see if there is a relationship between democracy scores and level of trust in the goverment with a geom_point() scatterplot

The geom_smooth() argument plots a linear regression OLS line, with a standard error bar around.

We want the labels for the country to not overlap so we use the geom_label_repel() from the ggrepel package. We don’t want an a in the legend, so we add show.legend = FALSE to the arguments

my_df %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = democracy_score, y = trust_score)) +
  geom_smooth(method = "lm", color = "#a0001c", size = 3) +
  geom_point(aes(color = as.factor(region)), size = 20, alpha = 0.6) +
 geom_label_repel(aes(label = country_name, color = as.factor(region)), show.legend = FALSE, size = 5) + 
scale_color_manual(values = c("#9a031e","#fb8b24","#5f0f40","#0f4c5c")) -> scatter_plot

And we change the theme and add labels to the plot.

scatter_plot + theme(panel.border = element_blank(),
        legend.position = "bottom",
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
        legend.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        text= element_text(size = 15, color = "white"),

        legend.key = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472"),
        panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#5e6472")) +
  guides(colour = guide_legend(override.aes = list(size=10)))  +
  labs(title = "Democracy and trust levels", 
       y = "Democracy score",
       x = "Trust level of respondents",
       caption="Data from OECD") 

We can filter out the two countries with low democracy and examining the consolidated democracies.

Thank you for reading!

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Lollipop plots with ggplot2 in R

Packages we will need:


We will plot out a lollipop plot to compare EU countries on their level of income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient.

A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, where all values are the same (e.g. where everyone has the same income). A Gini coefficient of one (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values (e.g. for a large number of people where only one person has all the income or consumption and all others have none, the Gini coefficient will be nearly one).

To start, we will take data on the EU from Wikipedia. With rvest package, scrape the table about the EU countries from this Wikipedia page.

Click here to read more about the rvest pacakge

With the gsub() function, we can clean up the different variables with some regex. Namely delete the footnotes / square brackets and change the variable classes.

eu_site <- read_html("")

eu_tables <- eu_site %>% html_table(header = TRUE, fill = TRUE)

eu_members <- eu_tables[[3]]

eu_members %<>% janitor::clean_names()  %>% 

eu_members$iso3 <- countrycode::countrycode(eu_members$geo, "", "iso3c")

eu_members$accession <- as.numeric(gsub("([0-9]+).*$", "\\1",eu_members$accession))

eu_members$name_clean <- gsub("\\[.*?\\]", "", eu_members$name)

eu_members$gini_clean <- gsub("\\[.*?\\]", "", eu_members$gini)

Next some data cleaning and grouping the year member groups into different decades. This indicates what year each country joined the EU. If we see clustering of colours on any particular end of the Gini scale, this may indicate that there is a relationship between the length of time that a country was part of the EU and their domestic income inequality level. Are the founding members of the EU more equal than the new countries? Or conversely are the newer countries that joined from former Soviet countries in the 2000s more equal. We can visualise this with the following mutations:

eu_members %>%
  filter(name_clean != "Totals/Averages") %>% 
  mutate(gini_numeric = as.numeric(gini_clean)) %>% 
  mutate(accession_decades = ifelse(accession < 1960, "1957", ifelse(accession > 1960 & accession < 1990, "1960s-1980s", ifelse(accession == 1995, "1990s", ifelse(accession > 2003, "2000s", accession))))) -> eu_clean 

To create the lollipop plot, we will use the geom_segment() functions. This requires an x and xend argument as the country names (with the fct_reorder() function to make sure the countries print out in descending order) and a y and yend argument with the gini number.

All the countries in the EU have a gini score between mid 20s to mid 30s, so I will start the y axis at 20.

We can add the flag for each country when we turn the ISO2 character code to lower case and give it to the country argument.

Click here to read more about the ggflags package

eu_clean %>% 
ggplot(aes(x= name_clean, y= gini_numeric, color = accession_decades)) +
  geom_segment(aes(x = forcats::fct_reorder(name_clean, -gini_numeric), 
                   xend = name_clean, y = 20, yend = gini_numeric, color = accession_decades), size = 4, alpha = 0.8) +
  geom_point(aes(color = accession_decades), size= 10) +
  geom_flag(aes(y = 20, x = name_clean, country = tolower(iso_3166_1_alpha_2)), size = 10) +
  ggtitle("Gini Coefficients of the EU countries") -> eu_plot

Last we add various theme changes to alter the appearance of the graph

eu_plot + 
coord_flip() +
ylim(20, 40) +
  theme(panel.border = element_blank(),
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        axis.title = element_blank(),
        axis.text = element_text(color = "white"),
        text= element_text(size = 35, color = "white"),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
        legend.key = element_rect(colour = "#001219", fill = "#001219"),
        legend.key.width = unit(3, 'cm'),
        legend.position = "bottom",
        panel.grid.major.y = element_line(linetype="dashed"),
        plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219"),
        panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219"),
        legend.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219") )

We can see there does not seem to be a clear pattern between the year a country joins the EU and their level of domestic income inequality, according to the Gini score.

Of course, the Gini coefficient is not a perfect measurement, so take it with a grain of salt.

Another option for the lolliplot plot comes from the ggpubr package. It does not take the familiar aesthetic arguments like you can do with ggplot2 but it is very quick and the defaults look good!

eu_clean %>% 
  ggdotchart( x = "name_clean", y = "gini_numeric",
              color = "accession_decades",
              sorting = "descending",                      
              rotate = TRUE,                                
              dot.size = 10,   
              y.text.col = TRUE,
              ggtheme = theme_pubr()) + 
  ggtitle("Gini Coefficients of the EU countries") + 
  theme(panel.border = element_blank(),
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        axis.title = element_blank(),
        axis.text = element_text(color = "white"),
        text= element_text(size = 35, color = "white"),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
        legend.key = element_rect(colour = "#001219", fill = "#001219"),
        legend.key.width = unit(3, 'cm'),
        legend.position = "bottom",
        panel.grid.major.y = element_line(linetype="dashed"),
        plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219"),
        panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219"),
        legend.background = element_rect(fill = "#001219") )

Replicating Eurostat graphs in R

Packages we will need:


In this blog, we will try to replicate this graph from Eurostat!

It compares all European countries on their Digitical Intensity Index scores in 2020. This measures the use of different digital technologies by enterprises.

The higher the score, the higher the digital intensity of the enterprise, ranging from very low to very high. 

For more information on the index, I took the above information from this site:

First, we will download the digital index from Eurostat with the get_eurostat() function.

Click here to learn more about downloading data on EU from the Eurostat package.

Next some data cleaning. To copy the graph, we will aggregate the different levels into very low, low, high and very high categories with the grepl() function in some ifelse() statements.

The variable names look a bit odd with lots of blank space because I wanted to space out the legend in the graph to replicate the Eurostat graph above.

dig <- get_eurostat("isoc_e_dii", type = "label")

dig %<>% 
   mutate(dii_level = ifelse(grepl("very low", indic_is), "Very low        " , ifelse(grepl("with low", indic_is), "Low        ", ifelse(grepl("with high", indic_is), "High        ", ifelse(grepl("very high", indic_is), "Very high        ", indic_is)))))

Next I fliter out the year I want and aggregate all industry groups (from the sizen_r2 variable) in each country to calculate a single DII score for each country.

dig %>% 
  select(sizen_r2, geo, values, dii_level, year) %>%  
  filter(year == 2020) %>% 
  group_by(dii_level, geo) %>% 
  summarise(total_values = sum(values, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ungroup() -> my_dig

I use a hex finder website to find the same hex colors from the Eurostat graph and assign them to our version.

dii_pal <- c("Very low        " = "#f0aa4f",
             "Low        " = "#fee229",
             "Very high        " = "#154293", 
             "High        " = "#7fa1d4")

We can make sure the factors are in the very low to very high order (rather than alphabetically) with the ordered() function

my_dig$dii_level <- ordered(my_dig$dii_level, levels = c("Very Low        ", "Low        ", "High        ","Very high        "))

Next we filter out the geo rows we don’t want to add to the the graph.

Also we can change the name of Germany to remove its longer title.

my_dig %>% 
  filter(geo != "Euro area (EA11-1999, EA12-2001, EA13-2007, EA15-2008, EA16-2009, EA17-2011, EA18-2014, EA19-2015)") %>% 
  filter(geo != "United Kingdom") %>% 
  filter(geo != "European Union - 27 countries (from 2020)") %>% 
  filter(geo != "European Union - 28 countries (2013-2020)") %>% 
  mutate(geo = ifelse(geo == "Germany (until 1990 former territory of the FRG)", "Germany", geo)) -> my_dig 

And also, to have the same order of countries that are in the graph, we can add them as ordered factors.

my_dig$country <- factor(my_dig$geo, levels = c("Finland", "Denmark", "Malta", "Netherlands", "Belgium", "Sweden", "Estonia", "Slovenia", "Croatia", "Italy", "Ireland","Spain", "Luxembourg", "Austria", "Czechia", "France", "Germany", "Portugal", "Poland", "Cyprus", "Slovakia", "Hungary", "Lithuania", "Latvia", "Greece", "Romania", "Bulgaria", "Norway"), ordered = FALSE)

Now to plot the graph:

my_dig %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  group_by(country, dii_level) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(y = country, 
             x = total_values,
             fill = forcats::fct_rev(dii_level))) +
  geom_col(position = "fill", width = 0.7) + 
  scale_fill_manual(values = dii_pal) + 
  ggthemes::theme_pander() +
  coord_flip() +
  labs(title = "EU's Digital Intensity Index (DII) in 2020",
       subtitle = ("(% of enterprises with at least 10 persons employed)"),
       caption = "ec.europa/eurostat") +
  xlab("") + 
  ylab("") + 
  theme(text = element_text(family = "Verdana", color = "#154293"),
        axis.line.x = element_line(color = "black", size = 1.5),
        axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 90, size = 20, color = "#154293", hjust = 1),
        axis.text.y = element_text(color = "#808080", size = 13, face = "bold"),
        legend.position = "top", 
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        legend.text = element_text(color = "#808080", size = 20, face = "bold"),
        plot.title = element_text(size = 42, color = "#154293"),
        plot.subtitle = element_text(size = 25, color = "#154293"),
        plot.caption = element_text(size = 20, color = "#154293"),
        panel.background = element_rect(color = "#f2f2f2"))

It is not identical and I had to move the black line up and the Norway model more to the right with Paint on my computer! So a bit of cheating!

Click to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the blog series on visualising Eurostat data

For information on the index discussed in this blog post:

Bump charts for ranking with ggbump package in R


Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 of the series on Eurostat data – explains how to download and visualise the Eurostat data

In this blog, we will look at government expenditure of the European Union!

Part 1 will go into detail about downloading Eurostat data with their package.

govt <- get_eurostat("gov_10a_main", fix_duplicated = TRUE)

Some quick data cleaning and then we can look at the variables in the dataset.

govt$year <- as.numeric(format(govt$time, format = "%Y"))

The numbers and letters are a bit incomprehensible. We can go to the Eurostat data browser site. It ascts as a codebook for all the variables we downloaded:

I want to take the EU accession data from Wikipedia. Check out the Part 1 blog post to scrape the data.

govt$iso3 <- countrycode(govt$geo, "iso2c", "iso3c")

govt_df <- merge(govt, eu_members, by.x = "iso3", by.y = "iso_3166_1_alpha_3", all.x = TRUE)

We will look at general government spending of the countries from the 2004 accession.

Also we will choose data is government expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

govt_df %<>%
  filter(sector == "S13") %>%      # General government spending
  filter(accession == 2004) %>%    # For countries that joined 2004
  filter(unit == "PC_GDP") %>%     # Spending as percentage of GDP
  filter(na_item == "TE")          # Total expenditure

A little more data cleaning! To use the ggflags package, the ISO 2 character code needs to be in lower case.

Also we will use some regex to remove the strings in the square brackets from the dataset.

govt_df$iso2_lower <- tolower(govt_df$iso_3166_1_alpha_2)

govt_df$name_clean <- gsub("\\[.*?\\]", "", govt_df$name)

To put the flags at the start of the graph and names of the countries at the end of the lines, create mini dataframes with only information for the last year and first year:

last_time <- govt_df %>%
  group_by(geo) %>% 
  slice(which.max(year)) %>% 

first_time <- govt_df %>%
  group_by(geo) %>% 
  slice(which.min(year)) %>% 

I choose some nice hex colours from the coolors website. They need # in the strings to be acknowledged as hex colours by ggplot

add_hashtag <- function(my_vec){
  hash_vec <-  paste0('#', my_vec)

pal <- c("0affc2","ffb8d1","05e6dc","00ccf5","ff7700",

pal_hash <- add_hashtag(pal)

Now we can plot:

govt_df %>% 
  filter(geo != "CY" | geo != "MT") %>% 
  filter( year < 2020) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year,
             y = values, group = name)) + 
  geom_text_repel(data = last_time, aes(label = name_clean, 
                                        color = name), 
                  size = 6, hjust = -3) +
  geom_point(aes(color = name)) + 
  geom_line(aes(color = name), size = 3, alpha = 0.8) +
  ggflags::geom_flag(data = first_time,
                     aes(x = year,
                         y = values,
                         country = iso2_lower),
                     size = 8) +
   scale_color_manual(values = pal_hash) +
  xlim(1994, 2021) + 
   ggthemes::theme_fivethirtyeight() +
  theme(panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#284b63"),
        legend.position = "none",
        axis.text.x = element_text(size = 20),
        axis.text.y = element_text(size = 20),
        panel.grid.major.y = element_line(color = "#495057",
                                          size = 0.5,
                                          linetype = 2),
        panel.grid.minor.y = element_line(color = "#495057",
                                          size = 0.5,
                                          linetype = 2)) +
  guides(colour = guide_legend(override.aes = list(size=10)))

Sometimes a simple line graph doesn’t easily show us the ranking of the countries over time.

The last graph was a bit cluttered, so we can choose the top average highest government expenditures to compare

govt_rank %>% 
  distinct(geo, mean_rank) %>% 
  top_n(6, mean_rank) %>%
  pull(geo) -> top_rank

We can look at a bump chart that ranks the different positions over time

govt_df %>% 
  filter(geo %in%  top_rank) %>% 
  group_by(year) %>%
  mutate(rank_budget = rank(-values, ties.method = "min")) %>%
  ungroup() %>% 
  group_by(geo) %>% 
  mutate(mean_rank = mean(values)) %>% 
  ungroup()  %>% 
  select(geo, iso2_lower, year, fifth_year, rank_budget, mean_rank) -> govt_rank

We recreate the last and first dataframes for the flags with the new govt_rank dataset.

last_time <- govt_rank %>%
  filter(geo %in% top_rank ) %>% 
  group_by(geo) %>% 
  slice(which.max(year)) %>% 

first_time <- govt_rank %>%
  filter(geo %in% top_rank ) %>% 
  group_by(geo) %>% 
  slice(which.min(year)) %>% 

All left to do is code the bump plot to compare the ranking of highest government expenditure as a percentage of GDP

govt_rank %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = rank_budget, 
             group = country,
             color = country, fill = country)) +
  geom_point() +
            size = 3, alpha = 0.8,
            lineend = "round") + 
  geom_flag(data = last_time %>%
              filter(year == max(year)),
            aes(country = iso2_lower ),
            size = 20,
            color = "black") +
  geom_flag(data = first_time %>%
              filter(year == max(year)),
            aes(country = iso2_lower),
            size = 20,
            color = "black") -> govt_bump

Last we change the theme aesthetics of the bump plot

govt_bump + theme(panel.background = element_rect(fill = "#284b63"),
      legend.position = "bottom",
      axis.text.x = element_text(size = 20),
      axis.text.y = element_text(size = 20),
      axis.line = element_line(color='black'),
      axis.title.x = element_blank(), 
      axis.title.y = element_blank(), 
      legend.title = element_blank(),
      legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
      panel.grid.major = element_blank(),
      panel.grid.minor = element_blank()) + 
  guides(colour = guide_legend(override.aes = list(size=10))) + 
  scale_y_reverse(breaks = 1:100)

I added the title and moved the legend with, rather than attempt it with ggplots! I feel bad for cheating a bit.

Download EU data with Eurostat package in R: Part 1 (with pyramid graphs)


Eurostat is the statistical office of the EU. It publishes statistics and indicators that enable comparisons between countries and regions.

With the eurostat package, we can visualise some data from the EU and compare countries. In this blog, we will create a pyramid graph and a Statista-style bar chart.

First, we use the get_eurostat_toc() function to see what data we can download. We only want to look at datasets.

available_data <- get_eurostat_toc()

available_datasets <- available_data %>% 
  filter(type == "dataset")

A simple dataset that we can download looks at populations. We can browse through the available datasets and choose the code id. We feed this into the get_eurostat() dataset.

demo <- get_eurostat(id = "demo_pjan", 
                     type = "label")


Some quick data cleaning. First changing the date to a numeric variable. Next, extracting the number from the age variable to create a numeric variable.

demo$year <- as.numeric(format(demo$time, format = "%Y"))

demo$age_number <- as.numeric(gsub("([0-9]+).*$", "\\1", demo$age))

Next we filter out the data we don’t need. For this graph, we only want the total columns and two years to compare.

demo %>%
  filter(age != "Total") %>%
  filter(age != "Unknown") %>% 
  filter(sex == "Total") %>% 
  filter(year == 1960 | year == 2019 ) %>% 
  select(geo, iso3, values, age_number) -> demo_two_years

I want to compare the populations of the founding EU countries (in 1957) and those that joined in 2004. I’ll take the data from Wikipedia, using the rvest package. Click here to learn how to scrape data from the Internet.

eu_site <- read_html("")

eu_tables <- eu_site %>% html_table(header = TRUE, fill = TRUE)

eu_members <- eu_tables[[3]]

eu_members %<>% janitor::clean_names()  %>% 

Some quick data cleaning to get rid of the square bracket footnotes from the Wikipedia table data.

eu_members$accession <- as.numeric(gsub("([0-9]+).*$", "\\1",eu_members$accession))

eu_members$name_clean <- gsub("\\[.*?\\]", "", eu_members$name)

We merge the two datasets, on the same variable. In this case, I will use the ISO3C country codes (from the countrycode package). Using the names of each country is always tricky (I’m looking at you, Czechia / Czech Republic).

demo_two_years$iso3 <- countrycode::countrycode(demo_two_years$geo, ", "iso3c")

my_pyramid <- merge(demo_two_years, eu_members, by.x = "iso3", by.y = "iso_3166_1_alpha_3", all.x = TRUE)

We will use the pyramid_chart() function from the ggcharts package. Click to read more about this function.

The function takes the age group (we go from 1 to 99 years of age), the number of people in that age group and we add year to compare the ages in 1960 versus in 2019.

The first graph looks at the countries that founded the EU in 1957.

my_pyramid %>%  
  filter(! %>%  
  filter(accession == 1957 ) %>% 
  arrange(age_number) %>% 
  group_by(year, age_number) %>% 
  summarise(mean_age = mean(values, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  pyramid_chart(age_number, mean_age, year,
                bar_colors = c("#9a031e", "#0f4c5c")) 
Source: Eurostat

The second graph is the same, but only looks at the those which joined in 2004.

my_pyramid %>%  
  filter(! %>%  
  filter(accession == 2004 ) %>% 
  arrange(age_number) %>% 
  group_by(year, age_number) %>% 
  summarise(mean_age = mean(values, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  pyramid_chart(age_number, mean_age, year,
                bar_colors = c("#9a031e", "#0f4c5c")) 

Next we will use the Eurostat data on languages in the EU and compare countries in a bar chart.

I want to try and make this graph approximate the style of Statista graphs. It is far from identical but I like the clean layout that the Statista website uses.

Similar to above, we add the code to the get_eurostat() function and claen the data like above.

lang <- get_eurostat(id = "edat_aes_l22", 
                     type = "label")

lang$year <- as.numeric(format(lang$time, format = "%Y"))

lang$iso2 <- tolower(countrycode(lang$geo, "", "iso2c"))

lang %>% 
  mutate(geo = ifelse(geo == "Germany (until 1990 former territory of the FRG)", "Germany", 
                      ifelse(geo == "European Union - 28 countries (2013-2020)", "EU", geo))) %>% 
  filter(n_lang == "3 languages or more") %>% 
  filter(year == 2016) %>% 
  filter(age == "From 25 to 34 years") %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  group_by(geo, year) %>% 
  mutate(mean_age = mean(values, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  arrange(mean_age) -> lang_clean

Next we will create bar chart with the stat = "identity" argument.

We need to make sure our ISO2 country code variable is in lower case so that we can add flags to our graph with the ggflags package. Click here to read more about this package

lang_clean %>%
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(geo, mean_age), y = mean_age)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", width = 0.7, color = "#0a85e5", fill = "#0a85e5") + 
  ggflags::geom_flag(aes(x = geo, y = -1, country = iso2), size = 8) +
  geom_text(aes(label= values), position = position_dodge(width = 0.9), hjust = -0.5, size = 5, color = "#000500") + 
  labs(title = "Percentage of people that speak 3 or more languages",
       subtitle = ("(% of overall population)"),
       caption = "         Source: Eurostat ") +
  xlab("") + 
  ylab("") -> lang_plot 

To try approximate the Statista graphs, we add many arguments to the theme() function for the ggplot graph!

lang_plot + coord_flip() + 
  expand_limits(y = 65) + 
  ggthemes::theme_pander() + 
  theme(plot.background = element_rect(color = "#f5f9fc"),
        panel.grid = element_line(colour = "#f5f9fc"),
        # axis.title.x = element_blank(),
        axis.text.x = element_blank(),
        axis.text.y = element_text(color = "#000500", size = 16),
        # axis.title.y = element_blank(),
        axis.ticks.x = element_blank(),
        text = element_text(family = "Gadugi"),
        plot.title = element_text(size = 28, color = "#000500"),
        plot.subtitle = element_text(size = 20, color = "#484e4c"),
        plot.caption = element_text(size = 20, color = "#484e4c") )

Next, click here to read Part 2 about visualizing Eurostat data with maps

Alternatives to pie charts: coxcomb and waffle charts

Packages we will need


If we want to convey nuance in the data, sometimes that information is lost if we display many groups in a pie chart.

According to Bernard Marr, our brains are used to equal slices when we think of fractions of a whole. When the slices aren’t equal, as often is the case with real-world data, it’s difficult to envision the parts of a whole pie chart accurately.

Below are some slight alternatives that we can turn to and visualise different values across groups.

I’m going to compare regions around the world on their total energy consumption levels since the 1900s.

First, we can download the region data with information about the geography and income levels for each group, using the ne_countries() function from the rnaturalearth package.

map <- ne_countries(scale = "medium", returnclass = "sf")

Click here to learn more about downloading map data from the rnaturalearth package.

Next we will select the variables that we are interested in, namely the income group variable and geographic region variable:

map %>% 
  select(name_long, subregion, income_gr) %>% as_data_frame() -> region_var

And add a variable of un_code that it will be easier to merge datasets in a bit. Click here to learn more about countrycode() function.

region_var$un_code <- countrycode(region_var$name_long, "", "un") 

Next, we will download national military capabilities (NMC) dataset. These variables – which attempt to operationalize a country’s power – are military expenditure, military personnel, energy consumption, iron and steel production, urban population, and total population. It serves as the basis for the most widely used indicator of national capability, CINC (Composite Indicator of National Capability) and covers the period 1816-2016.

To download them in one line of code, we use the create_stateyears() function from the peacesciencer package.

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states <- create_stateyears(mry = FALSE) %>% add_nmc() 

Click here to read more about downloading Correlates of War and other IR variables from the peacesciencer package

Next we add a UN location code so we can easily merge both datasets we downloaded!

states$un_code <- countrycode(states$statenme, "", "un")
states_df <- merge(states, region_var, by ="un_code", all.x = TRUE)

Next, let’s make the coxcomb graph.

First, we will create one high income group. The map dataset has a separate column for OECD and non-OECD countries. But it will be easier to group them together into one category. We do with with the ifelse() function within mutate().

Next we filter out any country that is NA in the dataset, just to keep it cleaner.

We then group the dataset according to income group and sum all the primary energy consumption in each region since 1900.

When we get to the ggplotting, we want order the income groups from biggest to smallest. To do this, we use the reorder() function with income_grp as the second argument.

To create the coxcomb chart, we need the geom_bar() and coord_polar() lines.

With the coord_polar() function, it takes the following arguments :

  • theta – the variable we map the angle to (either x or y)
  • start – indicates the starting point from 12 o’clock in radians
  • direction – whether we plot the data clockwise (1) or anticlockwise (-1)

We feed in a theta of “x” (this is important!), then a starting point of 0 and direction of -1.

Next we add nicer colours with hex values and label the legend in the scale_fill_manual() function.

I like using the fonts and size stylings in the bbc_style() theme.

Last we can delete some of the ticks and text from the plot to make it cleaner.

Last we add our title and source!

states_df %>% 
  mutate(income_grp = ifelse(income_grp == "1. High income: OECD", "1. High income", ifelse(income_grp == "2. High income: nonOECD", "1. High income", income_grp))) %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  filter(year > 1899) %>% 
  group_by(income_grp) %>% 
  summarise(sum_pec = sum(pec, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(sum_pec, income_grp), y = sum_pec, fill = as.factor(income_grp))) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity") + 
  coord_polar("x", start = 0, direction = -1)  + 
  ggthemes::theme_pander() + 
    values = c("#f94144", "#f9c74f","#43aa8b","#277da1"), 
    labels = c("High Income", "Upper Middle Income", "Lower Middle Income", "Low Income"), name = "Income Level") +
  bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  theme(axis.text = element_blank(),
            axis.title.x = element_blank(),
            axis.title.y = element_blank(),
            axis.ticks = element_blank(),
            panel.grid = element_blank()) + 
  ggtitle(label = "Primary Energy Consumption across income levels since 1900", subtitle = "Source: Correlates of War CINC")

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We can compare to the number of countries in each region :

states_df %>% 
  mutate(income_grp = ifelse(income_grp == "1. High income: OECD", "1. High income",
 ifelse(income_grp == "2. High income: nonOECD", "1. High income", income_grp))) %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  filter(year == 2016) %>% 
  count(income_grp) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(reorder(n, income_grp), n, fill = as.factor(income_grp))) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity") + 
  coord_polar("x", start = 0, direction = - 1)  + 
  ggthemes::theme_pander() + 
    values = c("#f94144", "#f9c74f","#43aa8b","#277da1"), 
    labels = c("High Income", "Upper Middle Income", "Lower Middle Income", "Low Income"), 
    name = "Income Level") +
  bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  theme(axis.text = element_blank(),
        axis.title.x = element_blank(),
        axis.title.y = element_blank(),
        axis.ticks = element_blank(),
        panel.grid = element_blank()) + 
  ggtitle(label = "Number of countries per region")

Another variation is the waffle plot!

It is important we do not install the CRAN version, but rather the version in development. I made the mistake of installing the non-github version and nothing worked.

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It was an ocean of error messages.

So, instead, install the following version:


When we add the waffle::geom_plot() there are some arguments we can customise.

  • n_rows – rhe default is 10 but this is something you can play around with to see how long or wide you want the chart
  • size – again we can play around with this number to see what looks best
  • color – I will set to white for the lines in the graph, the default is black but I think that can look a bit too busy.
  • flip – set to TRUE or FALSE for whether you want the coordinates horizontal or vertically stacked
  • make_proportional – if we set to TRUE, compute proportions from the raw values? (i.e. each value n will be replaced with n/sum(n)); default is FALSE

We can also add theme_enhance_waffle() to make the graph cleaner and less cluttered.

states_df %>% 
  filter(year == 2016) %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  mutate(income_grp = ifelse(income_grp == "1. High income: OECD",
 "1. High income", ifelse(income_grp == "2. High income: nonOECD", "1. High income", income_grp))) %>% 
  count(income_grp) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(fill = income_grp, values = n)) +
values = c("#f94144", "#f9c74f","#43aa8b","#277da1"), 
labels = c("High Income", "Upper Middle Income", 
"Lower Middle Income", "Low Income"), 
name = "Income Level") +
  waffle::geom_waffle(n_rows = 10, size = 0.5, colour = "white",
              flip = TRUE, make_proportional = TRUE) + bbplot::bbc_style() +  
  theme_enhance_waffle() + 
  ggtitle(label = "Number of countries per region")

We can also look at the sum of military expenditure across each region

states_df %>% 
  filter(! %>%
  filter(year > 1899) %>% 
  mutate(income_grp = ifelse(income_grp == "1. High income: OECD",
 "1. High income", ifelse(income_grp == "2. High income: nonOECD", 
"1. High income", income_grp))) %>% 
group_by(income_grp) %>%
  summarise(sum_military = sum(milex, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(fill = income_grp, values = sum_military)) +
    values = c("#f94144", "#f9c74f","#43aa8b","#277da1"), 
    labels = c("High Income", "Upper Middle Income", 
               "Lower Middle Income", "Low Income"), 
    name = "Income Level") +
  geom_waffle(n_rows = 10, size = 0.3, colour = "white",
              flip = TRUE, make_proportional = TRUE) + bbplot::bbc_style() +  
  theme_enhance_waffle() + 
  ggtitle(label = "Sum of military expenditure per region")
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Building a dataset for political science analysis in R, PART 1

When you want to create a dataset for large-n political science analysis from scratch, it can get muddled fast. Some tips I have found helpful to create clean data ready for panel data analysis.

Click here for PART 2 to create dyad-year and state-year variables with conflict, geographic features and alliance data from Correlates of War and Uppsala datasets.

Packages we will need

library(tidyverse)  # of course!

The states package by Andreas Beger can provide the skeleton for our panel dataset.

It create a cross-sectional, time-series dataset of independent sovereign countries that stretch back to 1816.

The package includes both the Gleditsch & Ward (G&W) and Correlates of War (COW) lists of independent states.

Click here for a discussion of the difference by Stephen Miller.

With the state_panel function from the states package, we create a data.frame from a start date to an end date, using the following syntax.

state_panel(start, end, by = NULL, partial = "any", useGW = TRUE)

The partial argument indicates how we want to deal with states that is independent for only part of the year. We can indicate “any”, “exact”, “first” or “last”.

For this example, I want to create a dataset starting in 1990 and ending in 2020. I put useGW = FALSE because I want to use the COW list of states.

df <- state_panel(1990, 2020, by = "year", partial = "last", useGW = FALSE)

And this is the resulting dataset

So we have our basic data.frame. We can see how many states there have been over the years.

df %>% 
  group_by(year) %>% 
  count() %>%  
# A tibble: 31 x 2
# Groups:   year [31]
    year     n
   <int> <int>
 1  1990   161
 2  1991   177
 3  1992   181
 4  1993   186
 5  1994   187
 6  1995   187
 7  1996   187
 8  1997   187
 9  1998   187
10  1999   190
11  2000   191
12  2001   191
13  2002   192
14  2003   192
15  2004   192
16  2005   192
17  2006   193
18  2007   193
19  2008   194
20  2009   194
# ... with 11 more rows

We can see that the early 1990s saw the creation of many states after the end of the Soviet Union. Since 2011, the dataset levels out at 195 (after the creation of South Sudan)

Next, we can add the country name with the countrycode() function from the countrycode package. We feed in the cowcode variable and add the full country names. Click here to read more about the function in more detail and see other options to add country ISO code, for example.

df$country <- countrycode(df$cowcode, "cown", "")

With our dataset with all states, we can add variables for our analysis

We can use the WDI package to download any World Bank indicator.

Click here for more information about this super easy package.

I’ll first add some basic variables, such as population, GDP per capita and infant mortality. We can do this with the WDI() function. The indicator code for population is SP.POP.TOTL so we add that to the indicator argument. (If we wanted only a few countries, we can add a vector of ISO2 code strings to the country argument).

POP <- WDI(country = "all",
           indicator = 'SP.POP.TOTL',
           start = 1990, 
           end = 2020)

The default variable name for population is the long string, so I’ll quickly change that

POP$population <- POP$SP.POP.TOTL 

I’ll do the same for GDP and infant mortality

GDP <- WDI(country = "all",
       indicator = 'NY.GDP.MKTP.KD',
       start = 1990, 
       end = 2020)


INF_MORT <- WDI(country = "all",
       indicator = 'SP.DYN.IMRT.IN',
       start = 1990, 
       end = 2020)

INF_MORT$infant_mortality <- INF_MORT$SP.DYN.IMRT.IN

Next, I’ll bind all the variables them together with cbind()

wb_controls <- cbind(POP, GDP, INF_MORT)

This cbind will copy the country and year variables three times so we can delete any replicated variables:

wb_controls <- wb_controls[, !duplicated(colnames(wb_controls), fromLast = TRUE)] 

When we download World Bank data, it comes with aggregated data for regions and economic groups. If we only want in our dataset the variables for countries, we have to delete the extra rows that we don’t want. We have two options for this.

The first option is to add the cow codes and then filter out all the rows that do not have a cow code (i.e. all non-countries)

wb_controls$cow_code <- countrycode(wb_controls$country, "", 'cown')

Then we re-organise the variables a bit more nicely in the dataset with select() and keep only the countries with filter() and the ! argument that will remove any row with NA values in the cow_code column.

df_v2 <- wb_controls %>%
  select(country, iso2c, cow_code, year, everything()) %>%

Alternatively, we can merge the World Bank variables with our states df and it can filter out any row that is not a sovereign, independent state.

In the merge() function, we use by to indicate the columns by which we want to merge the datasets. The all argument indicates which dataset we want to keep and NOT delete rows that do not match. If we typed all = TRUE, it would not delete any rows that do not match.

wb_controls %<>%
  select(cow_code, year, everything()) 

df_v3 <- merge(df, wb_controls, by.x = c("cowcode", "year"), by.y = c("cow_code", "year"), all.x = TRUE)

You can see that df_v2 has 85 more rows that df_v3. So it is up to you which way you want to use, and which countries you want to include each year. The df_v3 contains states that are more likely to be recognised as sovereign. df_v2 contains more territories.

Let’s look at the prevalence of NA values across our dataset.

We can use the plot_missing() function from the states package.

plot_missing(df_v3, ccode = "cowcode")

It is good to see a lot of green!

Let’s add some constant variables, such as geographical information. The rnaturalearth package is great for plotting maps. Click here to see how to plot maps with the package.

For this dataset, we just want the various geography group variables to add to our dataset:

map <- ne_countries(scale = "medium", returnclass = "sf")

We want to take some of the interesting variables from this map object:

map %>% 
  select(admin, economy, income_grp, continent, region_un, subregion, region_wb) -> regions_sf

This regions_sf is not in a data.frame object, it is a simple features dataset. So we delete the variables that make it an sf object and explicitly coerce it to data.frame

regions_sf$geometry<- NULL
regions_df <-

Finally, we add our COW codes like we did above:

regions_df$cow_code <- countrycode(regions_df$admin, "", "cown")
Warning message:
In countrycode(regions_df$admin, "", "cown") :

Some values were not matched unambiguously: Antarctica, Kashmir, Republic of Serbia, Somaliland, Western Sahara

Sometimes we cannot avoid hand-coding some of our variables. In this case, we don’t want to drop Serbia because the countrycode function couldn’t add the right code.

So we can check what its COW code is and add it to the dataset directly with the mutate function and an ifelse condition:

regions_df %<>% 
  dplyr::mutate(cow_code = ifelse(admin == "Republic of Serbia", 345, cow_code))

If we look at the countries, we can spot a problem. For Cyprus, it was counted twice – due to the control by both Turkish and Greek authorities. We can delete one of the versions because all the other World Bank variables look at Cyprus as one entity so they will be the same across both variables.

regions_df <- regions_df %>% slice(-c(38)) 

Next we merge the new geography variables to our dataset. Note that we only merge by one variable – the COW code – and indicate that we want to merge for every row in the x dataset (i.e. the first dataset in the function). So it will apply to each year row for each country!

df_v4 <- merge(df_v3, regions_df, by.x = "cowcode", by.y = "cow_code", all.x = TRUE)

So far so good! We have some interesting variables all without having to open a single CSV or DTA file!

Let’s look at the NA values in the data.frame

nhanes_miss = VIM::aggr(df_v3,
                   labels = names(df_v3), 
                   sortVars = TRUE,
                   numbers = TRUE)

We with the aggr() function from the VIM package to look at the prevalence of NA values. It’s always good to keep an eye on this and catch badly merged or badly specified datasets!

Click here for PART 2, where we add some Correlates of War data and interesting variables with the peacesciencer package .

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Graph linear model plots with sjPlots in R

This blog post will look at the plot_model() function from the sjPlot package. This plot can help simply visualise the coefficients in a model.

Packages we need:


We can look at variables that are related to citizens’ access to public services.

This dependent variable measures equal access access to basic public services, such as access to security, primary education, clean water, and healthcare and whether they are distributed equally or unequally according to socioeconomic position.

Higher scores indicate a more equal society.

I will throw some variables into the model and see what relationships are statistically significant.

The variables in the model are

  • level of judicial constraint on the executive branch,
  • freedom of information (such as freedom of speech and uncensored media),
  • level of democracy,
  • level of regime corruption and
  • strength of civil society.

So first, we run a simple linear regression model with the lm() function:

summary(my_model <- lm(social_access ~ judicial_constraint +
        freedom_information +
        democracy_score + 
        regime_corruption +
        data = df))

We can use knitr package to produce a nice table or the regression coefficients with kable().

I write out the independent variable names in the caption argument

I also choose the four number columns in the col.names argument. These numbers are:

  • beta coefficient,
  • standard error,
  • t-score
  • p-value

I can choose how many decimals I want for each number columns with the digits argument.

And lastly, to make the table, I can set the type to "html". This way, I can copy and paste it into my blog post directly.

my_model %>% 
tidy() %>%
kable(caption = "Access to public services by socio-economic position.", 
col.names = c("Predictor", "B", "SE", "t", "p"),
digits = c(0, 2, 3, 2, 3), "html")
Access to public services by socio-economic position
Predictor B SE t p
(Intercept) 1.98 0.380 5.21 0.000
Judicial constraints -0.03 0.485 -0.06 0.956
Freedom information -0.60 0.860 -0.70 0.485
Democracy Score 2.61 0.807 3.24 0.001
Regime Corruption -2.75 0.381 -7.22 0.000
Civil Society Strength -1.67 0.771 -2.17 0.032
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Higher democracy scores are significantly and positively related to equal access to public services for different socio-economic groups.

There is no statistically significant relationship between judicial constraint on the executive.

But we can also graphically show the coefficients in a plot with the sjPlot package.

There are many different arguments you can add to change the colors of bars, the size of the font or the thickness of the lines.

p <-  plot_model(my_model, 
      line.size = 8, 
      show.values = TRUE,
      colors = "Set1",
      vline.color = "#d62828",
      axis.labels = c("Civil Society Strength",  "Regime Corruption", "Democracy Score", "Freedom information", "Judicial constraints"), title = "Equal access to public services distributed by socio-economic position")

p + theme_sjplot(base_size = 20)

So how can we interpret this graph?

If a bar goes across the vertical red line, the coefficient is not significant. The further the bar is from the line, the higher the t-score and the more significant the coefficient!

Examining speeches from the UN Security Council Part 1

Let’s look at how many speeches took place at the UN Security Council every year from 1995 until 2019.

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I want to only look at countries, not organisations. So a quick way to do that is to add a variable to indicate whether the speaker variable has an ISO code.

Only countries have ISO codes, so I can use this variable to filter away all the organisations that made speeches


speech$iso2 <- countrycode(speech$country, "", "iso2c")


speech %>% 
  dplyr::filter(! %>% 
  group_by(year) %>% 
  count() %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = n)) + 
  geom_line(size = 1.2, alpha = 0.4) +
  geom_label(aes(label = n)) +
  bbplot::bbc_style() +
  theme(plot.title = element_text(hjust = 0.5)) +
  labs(title = "Number of speeches given by countries at UNSC")

We can see there has been a relatively consistent upward trend in the number of speeches that countries are given at the UN SC. Time will tell what impact COVID will have on these trends.

There was a particularly sharp increase in speeches in 2015.

We can look and see who was talking, and in the next post, we can examine what they were talking about in 2015 with some simple text analytic packages and functions.

First, we will filter only the year 2015 and count the number of observations per group (i.e. the number of speeches per country this year).

To add flags to the graph, add the iso2 code to the dataset (and it must be in lower case).

Click here to read more about adding circular flags to graphs and maps

speech %>% 
  dplyr::filter(year == 2015) %>% 
  group_by(country) %>% 
  dplyr::summarise(speech_count = n()) -> speech_2015

speech_2015$iso2_lower <- tolower(speech_2015$iso2)

We can clean up the names and create a variable that indicates whether the country is one of the five Security Council Permanent Members, a Temporary Member elected or a Non-,ember.

I also clean up the names to make the country’s names in the dataset smaller. For example, “United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland”, will be very cluttered in the graph compared to just “UK” so it will be easier to plot.


speech_2015 %>% 
# To avoid the graph being too busy, we only look at countries that gave over 20 speeches
  dplyr::filter(speech_count > 20) %>% 

# Clean up some names so the graph is not too crowded
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland", "UK", country)) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "Russian Federation", "Russia", country)) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "United States Of America", "USA", country)) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "Republic Of Korea", "South Korea", country)) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic Of)", "Venezuela", country)) %>% 
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "Islamic Republic Of Iran", "Iran", country)) %>% 
  dplyr::mutate(country = ifelse(country == "Syrian Arab Republic", "Syria", country)) %>% 
# Create a Member status variable:
# China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are UNSC Permanent Members
  dplyr::mutate(Member = ifelse(country == "UK", "Permanent", 
  ifelse(country == "USA", "Permanent",
  ifelse(country == "China", "Permanent",
  ifelse(country == "Russia", "Permanent",
  ifelse(country == "France", "Permanent",

# Non-permanent members in their first year (elected October 2014)
  ifelse(country == "Angola", "Temporary (Elected 2014)",
  ifelse(country == "Malaysia", "Temporary (Elected 2014)",              
  ifelse(country == "Venezuela", "Temporary (Elected 2014)",       
  ifelse(country == "New Zealand", "Temporary (Elected 2014)",
  ifelse(country == "Spain", "Temporary (Elected 2014)",                 

# Non-permanent members in their second year (elected October 2013)        
  ifelse(country == "Chad", "Temporary (Elected 2013)",                                                               
  ifelse(country == "Nigeria", "Temporary (Elected 2013)",
  ifelse(country == "Jordan", "Temporary (Elected 2013)",
  ifelse(country == "Chile", "Temporary (Elected 2013)",
  ifelse(country == "Lithuania", "Temporary (Elected 2013)", 
# Non members that will join UNSC next year (elected October 2015)          
  ifelse(country == "Egypt", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)",                                                               
  ifelse(country == "Sengal", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)",
  ifelse(country == "Uruguay", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)",
  ifelse(country == "Japan", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)",
  ifelse(country == "Ukraine", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)", 

# Everyone else is a regular non-member           
               "Non-Member"))))))))))))))))))))) -> speech_2015

When we have over a dozen nested ifelse() statements, we will need to check that we have all our corresponding closing brackets.

Next choose some colours for each Memberships status. I always take my hex values from

membership_palette <- c("Permanent" = "#e63946", "Non-Member" = "#2a9d8f", "Non-Member (Elected 2015)" = "#a8dadc", "Temporary (Elected 2013)" = "#457b9d","Temporary (Elected 2014)" = "#1d3557")
Season 4 Applause GIF by The Simpsons - Find & Share on GIPHY

And all that is left to do is create the bar chart.

With geom_bar(), we can indicate stat = "identity" because we are giving the plot the y values and ggplot does not need to do the automatic aggregation on its own.

To make sure the bars are descending from most speeches to fewest speeches, we use the reorder() function. The second argument is the variable according to which we want to order the bars. So for us, we give the speech_count integer variable to order our country bars with x = reorder(country, speech_count).

We can change the bar from vertical to horizontal with coordflip().

I add flags with geom_flag() and feed the lower case ISO code to the country = iso2_lower argument.

I add the bbc_style() again because I like the font, size and sparse lines on the plot.

We can move the title of the plot into the centre with plot.title = element_text(hjust = 0.5))

Finally, we can supply the membership_palette vector to the values = argument in the scale_fill_manual() function to specify the colours we want.

speech_2015 %>%  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(country, speech_count), y = speech_count)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", aes(fill = as.factor(Member))) +
  coord_flip() +
  ggflags::geom_flag(mapping = aes(y = -15, x = country, country = iso2_lower), size = 10) +
  geom_label(mapping = aes( label = speech_count), size = 8) +
  theme(legend.position = "top") + 
  labs(title = "UNSC speeches given in 2015", y = "Number of speeches", x = "") +
  bbplot::bbc_style() +
  theme(text = element_text(size = 20),
  plot.title = element_text(hjust = 0.5)) +
  scale_fill_manual(values =  membership_palette)

In the next post, we will look at the texts themselves. Here is a quick preview.


speech_tokens <- speech %>%
  unnest_tokens(word, text) %>% 


We count the number of tokens (i.e. words) for each country in each year. With the distinct() function we take only one observation per year per country. This reduces the number of rows from 16601520 in speech_tokesn to 3142 rows in speech_words_count :

speech_words_count <- speech_tokens %>%
  group_by(year, country) %>%
  mutate(word_count = n_distinct(word)) %>%
  select(country, year, word_count, permanent, iso2_lower) %>%

Subset the data.frame to only plot the five Permanent Members. Now we only have 125 rows (25 years of total annual word counts for 5 countries!)

permanent_words_summary <- speech_words_count %>% 
  filter(permanent == 1) 

Choose some nice hex colors for my five countries:

five_pal <- c("#ffbc42","#d81159","#8f2d56","#218380","#73d2de")

It is a bit convoluted to put the flags ONLY at the start and end of the lines. We need to subset the dataset two times with the geom_flag() sections. First, we subset the data.frame to year == 1995 and the flags appear at the start of the word_count on the y axis. Then we subset to year == 2019 and do the same

ggplot(data = permanent_word_summary) +
  geom_line(aes(x = year, y = word_count, group = as.factor(country), color = as.factor(country)), 
size = 2) +
  ggflags::geom_flag(data = subset(permanent_word_summary, year == 1995), aes(x = 1995, y = word_count,  country = iso2_lower), size = 9) +
  ggflags::geom_flag(data = subset(permanent_word_summary, 
year == 2019), 
aes(x = 2019, 
y = word_count, 
country = iso2_lower), 
size = 12) + 
  bbplot::bbc_style() +
 theme(legend.position = "right") + labs(title = "Number of words spoken by Permanent Five in the UN Security Council") + 
  scale_color_manual(values = five_pal)

We can see that China has been the least chattiest country if we are measuring chatty with number of words spoken. Translation considerations must also be taken into account. We can see here again at around the 2015 mark, there was a discernible increase in the number of words spoken by most of the countries!

Episode 16 GIF by The Simpsons - Find & Share on GIPHY

Improve your visualizations with ggsave in R

When we save our plots and graphs in R, we can use the ggsave() function and specify the type, size and look of the file.

We are going to look two features in particular: anti-aliasing lines with the Cairo package and creating transparent backgrounds.

Make your graph background transparent

First, let’s create a pie chart with a transparent background. The pie chart will show which party has held the top spot in Irish politics for the longest.

After we prepare and clean our data of Irish Taoisigh start and end dates in office and create a doughnut chart (see bottom of blog for doughnut graph code), we save it to our working directory with ggsave().

To see where we set that to, we can use getwd().

ggsave(pie_chart, filename = 'pie_chart.png', width = 50, height = 50, units = 'cm')

If we want to add our doughnut chart to a power point but we don’t want it to be a white background, we can ask ggsave to save the chart as transparent and then we can add it to our powerpoint or report!

To do this, we specify bg argument to "transparent"

ggsave(pie_chart, filename = 'pie_chart_transparent.png', bg = "transparent", width = 50, height = 50, units = 'cm')

This final picture was made in

Hex color values come from

Remove aliasing lines

Aliasing lines are jagged and pixelated.

When we save our graph in R with ggsave(), we can specify in the type argument that we want type = cairo.

I make a quick graph that looks at the trends in migration and GDP from 1960s to 2018 in Ireland. I made the lines extra large to demonstrate the difference between aliased and anti-aliased lines in the graphs.

ggsave(mig_trend, file="mig_alias.png", width = 80, height = 50, units = "cm")
ggsave(mig_trend, file="mig_antialias.png", type="cairo-png", dpi = 300,
 width = 80, height = 50, units = "cm")

When we zoom in, we can see the difference due to the anti-aliasing.

First, picture 1 appears far more jagged when we zoom in :

Figure 1: Aliased lines

And after we add Cairo package adjustment, we can see the lines are smoother in figure 2

Figure 2: Anti-aliasing lines

Doughnut graph code:

terms$duration <- as.Date(terms$end) - as.Date(terms$start)
terms$duration_number <- as.numeric(terms$duration)

terms %>%
  group_by(party) %>% 
  dplyr::summarise(max_count = cumsum(duration_number)) %>%  
  slice(which.max(max_count)) %>% 
  select(party, max_count) %>% 

counts <- data.frame(party = c("Cumann na nGaedheal", "Fine Gael" ,"Fianna Fáil"), 
                     value = c(3381, 10143, 22539))

data <- counts %>% 
  arrange(desc(party)) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(proportion = value / sum(counts$value)*100) %>%
  dplyr::mutate(ypos = cumsum(prop)- 0.35*proportion)

data$duration <- as.factor(data$value)
data$party_factor <- as.factor(data$party)

pie_chart <- ggplot(data, aes(x = 2, y = proportion, fill = party)) +
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", width = 1, color = "white") +
  coord_polar("y", start = 0) +
  xlim(0.5, 2.5) +
  theme(legend.position="none") +
  geom_text(aes(y = ypos-1, label = duration), color = "white", size = 10) +
  scale_fill_manual(values = c("Fine Gael" = "#004266", "Fianna Fáil" = "#FCB322", "Cumann na nGaedheal" = "#D62828")) +
  labs(title = "Which party held the office of Taoiseach longest?",
       subtitle = "From 1922 to 2021")

pie_chart <- pie_chart + theme_void() + theme(legend.title = element_blank(), 
                                 legend.position = "top",
                                 text = element_text(size = 25))

Migration and GNP trend graph code:

migration_trend <- ire_scale %>% 
  dplyr::filter(! %>% 
  ggplot() + 
  geom_rect(aes(ymin= 0, ymax = -Inf, xmin =-Inf, xmax =Inf), fill = "#9d0208", colour = NA, alpha = 0.07) +
  geom_rect(aes(ymin= 0, ymax = Inf, xmin =-Inf, xmax =Inf), fill = "#2a9d8f", colour = NA, alpha = 0.07) +
  geom_line(aes(x = year, y = gnp_scale), linetype = "dashed", color = "#457b9d", size = 3.5, alpha = 0.7) +
  geom_line(aes(x = year, y = mig_scale), size = 2.5) +
  labs(title = "Relationship between GNP and net migration in Ireland?",
       subtitle = "From 1960 to 2018")

mig_trend <- migration_trend + 
  annotate(geom = "text", x = 1983, y = 1.3, label = "Net Migration", size = 10, hjust = "left") +
  annotate(geom = "curve", x = 1990, y = 1.4, xend = 2000, yend = 1.5, curvature = -0.3, arrow = arrow(length = unit(0.7, "cm")), size = 3) +
  annotate(geom = "text", x = 1995, y = -1.2, label = "GNP", color = "#457b9d", size = 10, hjust = "left") +
  annotate(geom = "curve", x = 1999, y = -1.1, xend = 2000, color = "#457b9d", yend = -0.1, curvature = 0.3, arrow = arrow(length = unit(0.7, "cm")), size = 3)

mig_trend <- mig_trend  + 
  theme_fivethirtyeight() + 
  scale_y_continuous(name = "Net Migration", labels = comma) +
  bbplot::bbc_style() +
  theme(text = element_text(size = 25))