How to recreate Pew opinion graphs with ggplot2 in R

Packages we will need


In this blog post, we are going to recreate Pew Opinion poll graphs.

This is the plot we will try to recreate on gun control opinions of Americans:

To do this, we will download the data from the Pew website by following the link below:

atp <- read.csv(file.choose())

We then select the variables related to gun control opinions

atp %>% 
  select(GUNPRIORITY1_b_W87:GUNPRIORITY2_j_W87) -> gun_df

I want to rename the variables so I don’t forget what they are.

Then, we convert them all to factor variables because haven labelled class variables are sometimes difficult to wrangle…

gun_df %<>%
  select(mental_ill = GUNPRIORITY1_b_W87,
         assault_rifle = GUNPRIORITY1_c_W87, 
         gun_database = GUNPRIORITY1_d_W87,
         high_cap_mag = GUNPRIORITY1_e_W87,
         gunshow_bkgd_check = GUNPRIORITY1_f_W87,
         conceal_gun =GUNPRIORITY2_g_W87,
         conceal_gun_no_permit = GUNPRIORITY2_h_W87,
         teacher_gun = GUNPRIORITY2_i_W87,
         shorter_waiting = GUNPRIORITY2_j_W87) %>% 
  mutate(across(everything()), haven::as_factor(.))

Also we can convert the “Refused” to answer variables to NA if we want, so it’s easier to filter out.

gun_df %<>% 
  mutate(across(where(is.factor), ~na_if(., "Refused")))

Next we will pivot the variables to long format. The new names variable will be survey_question and the responses (Strongly agree, Somewhat agree etc) will go to the new response variable!

gun_df %>% 
  pivot_longer(everything(), names_to = "survey_question", values_to = "response") -> gun_long

And next we calculate counts and frequencies for each variable

gun_long %<>% 
  group_by(survey_question, response) %>% 
  summarise(n = n()) %>%
  mutate(freq = n / sum(n)) %>% 

Then we want to reorder the levels of the factors so that they are in the same order as the original Pew graph.

gun_long %>% 
  mutate(survey_question = as.factor(survey_question))   %>% 
   mutate(survey_question_reorder = factor(survey_question, 
          levels =  c( 
           ))) -> gun_reordered

And we use the hex colours from the original graph … very brown… I used this hex color picker website to find the right hex numbers:

brown_palette <- c("Strongly oppose" = "#8c834b",
                   "Somewhat oppose" = "#beb88f",
                   "Somewhat favor" = "#dfc86c",
                   "Strongly favor" = "#caa31e")

And last, we use the geom_bar() – with position = "stack" and stat = "identity" arguments – to create the bar chart.

To add the numbers, write geom_text() function with label = frequency within aes() and then position = position_stack() with hjust and vjust to make sure you’re happy with where the numbers are

gun_reordered %>% 
  filter(! %>% 
  mutate(frequency = round(freq * 100), 0) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = survey_question_reorder, 
             y = frequency, fill = response)) +
  geom_bar(position = "stack",
           stat = "identity") + 
  coord_flip() + 
  scale_fill_manual(values = brown_palette) +
  geom_text(aes(label = frequency), size = 10, 
            color = "black", 
            position = position_stack(vjust = 0.5)) +
  bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  labs(title = "Broad support for barring people with mental illnesses 
       \n from obtaining guns, expanded background checks",
       subtitle = "% who", 
       caption = "Note: No answer resposes not shown.\n Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted April 5-11 2021.") + 
  scale_x_discrete(labels = c(
    "Allowing people to carry conealed \n guns without a person",
    "Shortening waiting periods for people \n who want to buy guns leagally",
    "Allowing reachers and school officials \n to carry guns in K-12 school",
    "Allowing people to carry \n concealed guns in more places",
    "Banning assault-style weapons",
    "Banning high capacity ammunition \n magazines that hold more than 10 rounds",
    "Creating a federal government \n database to track all gun sales",
    "Making private gun sales \n subject to background check",
    "Preventing people with mental \n illnesses from purchasing guns"
Stephen Colbert Waiting GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Unfortunately this does not have diverving stacks from the middle of the graph

We can make a diverging stacked bar chart using function likert() from the HH package.

For this we want to turn the dataset back to wider with a column for each of the responses (strongly agree, somewhat agree etc) and find the frequency of each response for each of the questions on different gun control measures.

Then with the likert() function, we take the survey question variable and with the ~tilda~ make it the product of each response. Because they are the every other variable in the dataset we can use the shorthand of the period / fullstop.

We use positive.order = TRUE because we want them in a nice descending order to response, not in alphabetical order or something like that

gun_reordered %<>%
    filter(! %>%  
  select(survey_question, response, freq) %>%  
  pivot_wider(names_from = response, values_from = freq ) %>%
  ungroup() %>% 
  HH::likert(survey_question ~., positive.order = TRUE,
            main =  "Broad support for barring people with mental illnesses
            \n from obtaining guns, expanded background checks")

With this function, it is difficult to customise … but it is very quick to make a diverging stacked bar chart.

Angry Stephen Colbert GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - Find & Share on GIPHY

If we return to ggplot2, which is more easy to customise … I found a solution on Stack Overflow! Thanks to this answer! The solution is to put two categories on one side of the centre point and two categories on the other!

gun_reordered %>% 
filter(! %>% 
  mutate(frequency = round(freq * 100), 0) -> gun_final

And graph out

ggplot(data = gun_final, aes(x = survey_question_reorder, 
            fill = response)) +
  geom_bar(data = subset(gun_final, response %in% c("Strongly favor",
           "Somewhat favor")),
           aes(y = -frequency), position="stack", stat="identity") +
  geom_bar(data = subset(gun_final, !response %in% c("Strongly favor",
            "Somewhat favor")), 
           aes(y = frequency), position="stack", stat="identity") +
  coord_flip() + 
  scale_fill_manual(values = brown_palette) +
  geom_text(data = gun_final, aes(y = frequency, label = frequency), size = 10, color = "black", position = position_stack(vjust = 0.5)) +
  bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  labs(title = "Broad support for barring people with mental illnesses 
       \n from obtaining guns, expanded background checks",
       subtitle = "% who", 
       caption = "Note: No answer resposes not shown.\n Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted April 5-11 2021.") + 
  scale_x_discrete(labels = c(
    "Allowing people to carry conealed \n guns without a person",
    "Shortening waiting periods for people \n who want to buy guns leagally",
    "Allowing reachers and school officials \n to carry guns in K-12 school",
    "Allowing people to carry \n concealed guns in more places",
    "Banning assault-style weapons",
    "Banning high capacity ammunition \n magazines that hold more than 10 rounds",
    "Creating a federal government \n database to track all gun sales",
    "Making private gun sales \n subject to background check",
    "Preventing people with mental \n illnesses from purchasing guns"
High Five Stephen Colbert GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Next to complete in PART 2 of this graph, I need to figure out how to add lines to graphs and add the frequency in the correct place

Examining Ireland’s foreign policy in pictures with R

Packages we will need:


In January 2015, the Irish government published a review of Ireland’s foreign policy. The document, The Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World offers a perspective on Ireland’s place in the world.

In this blog, we will graph out some of the key features of Ireland’ foreign policy and so we can have a quick overview of the key relationships and trends.

Excited Season 4 GIF by The Office - Find & Share on GIPHY

First, we will look at the aid that Ireland gives to foreign countries. This read.csv(file.choose()) will open up the file window and you can navigate to the file and data that you can download from DAC OECD website:

dac <- read.csv(file.choose())

We will filter only Ireland and clean the names with the clean_names() function from the janitor package:

dac %<>% 
  filter(Donor == "Ireland") %>% 

And change the variables, adding the Correlates of War codes and cleaning up some of the countries’ names.

dac %<>% 
  mutate(cown = countrycode(recipient_2, "", "cown"),
         aid_amount = value*1000000) %>%  
  select(country = recipient_2, cown,
         year, time, aid_type, value, aid_amount) %>%
  mutate(cown = ifelse(country == "West Bank and Gaza Strip", 6666,
         ifelse(country == "Serbia", 345, 
         ifelse(country == "Micronesia", 987,cown))))%>%

Next we can convert dataframe to wider format so we have a value column for each aid type

dac %>% 
  distinct(country, cown, year, time, aid_type, value, .keep_all = TRUE)  %>%  
  pivot_wider(names_from = "aid_type", values_from = "aid_amount") %>% 
  mutate(across(where(is.numeric), ~ replace_na(., 0))) %>% 
  clean_names() -> dac_wider

And we graph out the three main types of aid:

dac_wider %>%
  group_by(year) %>% 
  summarise(total_humanitarian = sum(humanitarian_aid, na.rm = TRUE),
  total_technical = sum(technical_cooperation, na.rm = TRUE),
  total_development_food_aid = sum(development_food_aid)) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  pivot_longer(!year, names_to = "aid_type", values_to = "aid_value") %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = aid_value, groups = aid_type)) + 
  geom_line(aes(color = aid_type), size = 2, show_guide  = FALSE) +
  geom_point(aes(color = aid_type), fill = "white", shape = 21, size = 3, stroke = 2) +
  bbplot::bbc_style()  +
  scale_y_continuous(labels = scales::comma) + 
  scale_x_discrete(limits = c(2010:2018)) +
  labs(title = "Irish foreign aid by aid type (2010 - 2018)",
       subtitle = ("Source: OECD DAC")) +
  scale_color_discrete(name = "Aid type", 
        labels = c("Development and Food", "Humanitarian", "Technical"))

We will look at total ODA aid:

dac %>% 
  count(aid_type) %>% 
  arrange(desc(n)) %>% 
  knitr::kable(format = "html")
aid_type n
Imputed Multilateral ODA 2298
Memo: ODA Total, excl. Debt 1292
Memo: ODA Total, Gross disbursements 1254
ODA: Total Net 1249
Grants, Total 1203
Technical Cooperation 541
ODA per Capita 532
Humanitarian Aid 518
ODA as % GNI (Recipient) 504
Development Food Aid 9

And get some pretty hex colours:

pal_10 <- c("#001219","#005f73","#0a9396","#94d2bd","#e9d8a6","#ee9b00","#ca6702","#bb3e03","#ae2012","#9b2226")

And download some regime, democracy, region and continent data from the PACL datase with the democracyData() package

pacl <- redownload_pacl() 

pacl %<>% 
  mutate(regime_name = ifelse(regime == 0, "Parliamentary democracies",
         ifelse(regime == 1, "Mixed democracies",
         ifelse(regime == 2, "Presidential democracies",
         ifelse(regime == 3, "Civilian autocracies",
         ifelse(regime == 4, "Military dictatorships",
         ifelse(regime ==  5,"Royal dictatorships", regime))))))) %>%
  mutate(regime = as.factor(regime)) 

pacl %<>% 
  select(year, country = pacl_country, 
         democracy, regime_name,
         region_name = un_region_name, 
         continent_name = un_continent_name)

pacl %<>% 
  mutate(cown = countrycode(country, "", "cown")) %>% 

Summarise the total aid for each country across the years and choose the top 20 countries

dac %>% 
  filter(aid_type == "Memo: ODA Total, Gross disbursements") %>% 
  group_by(country) %>% 
  summarise(total_country_aid = sum(aid_amount, na.rm = TRUE)) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  top_n(n = 20) %>% 
  mutate(cown = countrycode::countrycode(country, "", "cown")) %>% 
  inner_join(pacl, by = "cown") %>%  
  mutate(region_name = ifelse(country == "West Bank and Gaza Strip", "Western Asia", region_name)) %>% 
  mutate(region_name = ifelse(region_name == "Western Asia", "Middle East", region_name)) %>% 
  mutate(country = ifelse(country == "West Bank and Gaza Strip", "Palestine",
  ifelse(country == "Democratic Republic of the Congo", "DR Congo",
  ifelse(country == "Syrian Arab Republic", "Syria", country)))) %>% 
  mutate(iso2 = tolower(countrycode::countrycode(country, "", "iso2c"))) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = forcats::fct_reorder(country, total_country_aid), y = total_country_aid)) + 
  geom_bar(aes(fill = region_name), stat = "identity", width = 0.7) + 
  coord_flip() + bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  geom_flag(aes(x = country, y = -100, country = iso2), size = 12) +
  scale_fill_manual(values = pal_10) +
  labs(title = "Ireland's largest ODA foreign aid recipients, 2010 - 2018",
       subtitle = ("Source: OECD DAC")) + 
  xlab("") + ylab("") + 
  scale_x_continuous(labels = scales::comma)

We can make a waffle plot to look at the different types of regimes to which the Irish government gave aid over the decades

 dac %>% 
  mutate(decade = substr(year, 1, 3)) %>% 
  mutate(decade = paste0(decade, "0s")) %>% 
  group_by(decade) %>% 
  count(regime_name) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(fill = regime_name, values = n)) +
  geom_waffle(color = "white", size = 0.3, n_rows = 10, flip = TRUE) +
  facet_wrap(~decade, nrow = 1, strip.position = "bottom") + 
  bbplot::bbc_style()  +
  scale_fill_manual(values = pal_10) +
   scale_x_discrete(breaks = round(seq(0, 1, by = 0.2),3)) +
  labs(title = "Ireland's ODA foreign aid recipient regime types since 1945",
       subtitle = ("Source: OECD DAC"))  

Next, we will download dyadic foreign policy similarity measures from peacesciencer.

Peacesciencer package has tools and data sets for the study of quantitative peace science. 

Click here to read more about the peacesciencer package by Steven Miller

fp_similar_df <- peacesciencer::create_dyadyears() %>% 
  add_gwcode_to_cow() %>% 

I am only looking at dyadic foreign policy similarity with Ireland, so filter by Ireland’s Correlates of War code, 205.

Click here to find out all countries’ COW code

fp_similar_df %<>% 
  filter(ccode1 == 205)

Data on alliance portfolios comes from the Correlates of War and is used to calculate similarity of foreign policy positions (see Altfeld & Mesquita, 1979).

The assumption is that similar alliance portfolios are the result of similar foreign policy positions.

With increasing in level of commitment, the strength of alliance commitments can be:

  1. no commitment
  2. entente
  3. neutrality or nonaggression pact
  4. defense pact

We will map out alliance similarity. This will use the measurement calculated with Cohen’s Kappa. Check out Hage’s (2011) article to read more about the different ways to measure alliance similarity.

Next we can look at UN similarity.

The UN voting variable calculates three values:

1 = Yes

2 = Abstain

3 = No

Based on these data, if two countries in a similar way on the same UN resolutions, this is a measure of the degree to which dyad members’ foreign policy positions are similar.

fp_similarity_df %>% 
  mutate(country = countrycode::countrycode(ccode2, "cown", "")) %>% 
  select(country, ccode2, year,
         un_similar = kappavv) %>% 
  filter(year > 1989) %>% 
  filter(! %>%
  mutate(iso2 = tolower(countrycode::countrycode(country, "", "iso2c"))) %>% 
  group_by(country) %>% 
  mutate(avg_un = mean(un_similar, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  distinct(country, avg_un, iso2, .keep_all = FALSE) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  top_n(n = 10)  -> top_un_similar

And graph out the top ten

  top_un_similar %>%
  ggplot(aes(x = forcats::fct_reorder(country, avg_un), 
             y = avg_un)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity",
           width = 0.7, 
           color = "#0a85e5", 
           fill = "#0a85e5") +
  ggflags::geom_flag(aes(x = country, y = 0, country = iso2), size = 15) +
  coord_flip() + bbplot::bbc_style()  +
  ggtitle("UN voting similarity with Ireland since 1990")

If we change the top_n() to negative, we can get the bottom 10

top_n(n = -10)

We can quickly scrape data about the EU countries with the rvest package

eu_members_html <- read_html("")
eu_members_tables <- eu_members_html %>% html_table(header = TRUE, fill = TRUE)

eu_member <- eu_members_tables[[6]]

eu_member %<>% 

eu_member %>% distinct(state) %>%  pull(state) -> eu_state

Last we are going to look at globalization scores. The data comes from the the KOF Globalisation Index. This measures the economic, social and political dimensions of globalisation. Globalisation in the economic, social and political fields has been on the rise since the 1970s, receiving a particular boost after the end of the Cold War.

Click here for data that you can download comes from the KOF website

kof %>%
  filter(country %in% eu_state) -> kof_eu

And compare Ireland to other EU countries on financial KOF index scores. We will put Ireland in green and the rest of the countries as grey to make it pop.

Ireland appears to follow the general EU trends and is not an outlier for financial globalisation scores.

kof_eu %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year,  y = finance, groups = country)) + 
  geom_line(color = ifelse(kof_eu$country == "Ireland",     "#2a9d8f", "#8d99ae"),
  size = ifelse(kof_eu$country == "Ireland", 3, 2), 
  alpha = ifelse(kof_eu$country == "Ireland", 0.9, 0.3)) +
  bbplot::bbc_style() + 
  ggtitle("Financial Globalization in Ireland, 1970 to 2020", 
          subtitle = "Source: KOF")


Häge, F. M. (2011). Choice or circumstance? Adjusting measures of foreign policy similarity for chance agreement. Political Analysis19(3), 287-305.

Dreher, Axel (2006): Does Globalization Affect Growth? Evidence from a new Index of Globalizationcall_made, Applied Economics 38, 10: 1091-​1110.

Comparing North and South Korean UN votes at the General Assembly with unvotes package

Packages we will use


Last September 17th 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the entry of North Korea and South Korea into full membership in the United Nations. Prior to this, they were only afforded observer status.

The Two Koreas Mark 30 Years of UN Membership: The Road to Membership

Let’s look at the types of voting that both countries have done in the General Assembly since 1991.

First we can download the different types of UN votes from the unvotes package

un_votes <- unvotes::un_roll_calls

un_votes_issues <- unvotes::un_roll_call_issues

unvotes::un_votes -> country_votes 

Join them all together and filter out any country that does not have the word “Korea” in its name.

un_votes %>% 
  inner_join(un_votes_issues, by = "rcid") %>% 
  inner_join(country_votes, by = "rcid") %>% 
  mutate(year = format(date, format = "%Y")) %>%
  filter(grepl("Korea", country)) -> korea_un

First we can make a wordcloud of all the different votes for which they voted YES. Is there a discernable difference in the types of votes that each country supported?

First, download the stop words that we can remove (such as the, and, if)


Then I will make a North Korean dataframe of all the votes for which this country voted YES. I remove some of the messy formatting with the gsub argument and count the occurence of each word. I get rid of a few of the procedural words that are more related to the technical wording of the resolutions, rather than related to the tpoic of the vote.

nk_yes_votes <- korea_un %>% 
  filter(country == "North Korea") %>% 
  filter(vote == "yes") %>%  
  select(descr, year) %>% 
  mutate(decade = substr(year, 1, 3)) %>% 
  mutate(decade = paste0(decade, "0s")) %>% 
  # group_by(decade) %>% 
  unnest_tokens(word, descr) %>% 
  mutate(word = gsub(" ", "", word)) %>% 
  mutate(word = gsub('_', '', word)) %>% 
  count(word, sort = TRUE) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  anti_join(stop_words)  %>% 
  mutate(word = case_when(grepl("palestin", word) ~ "Palestine", 
                          grepl("nucl", word) ~ "nuclear",
                          TRUE ~ as.character(word)))  %>%
  filter(word != "resolution") %>% 
  filter(word != "assembly") %>% 
  filter(word != "draft") %>% 
  filter(word != "committee") %>% 
  filter(word != "requested") %>% 
  filter(word != "report") %>% 
  filter(word != "practices") %>% 
  filter(word != "affecting") %>% 
  filter(word != "follow") %>% 
  filter(word != "acting") %>% 
  filter(word != "adopted") 

Next, we count the number of each word

nk_yes_votes %<>% 
  count(word) %>% 

We want to also remove the numbers

nums <- nk_yes_votes %>% filter(str_detect(word, "^[0-9]")) %>% select(word) %>% unique()

And remove the stop words

nk_yes_votes %<>%
  anti_join(nums, by = "word")

Choose some nice colours

my_colors <- c("#0450b4", "#046dc8", "#1184a7","#15a2a2", "#6fb1a0", 
               "#b4418e", "#d94a8c", "#ea515f", "#fe7434", "#fea802")

And lastly, plot the wordcloud with the top 50 words

   random.order = FALSE, 
   max.words = 50, 
   colors = my_colors)

If we repeat the above code with South Korea:

There doesn’t seem to be a huge difference. But this is not a very scientfic approach; I just like the look of them!

Next we will compare the two countries how many votes they voted yes, no or abstained from…

korea_un %>% 
  group_by(country, vote) %>% 
  count() %>% 
  mutate(count_ten = n /25) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  ggplot(aes(fill = vote, values = count_ten)) +
  geom_waffle(color = "white",
              size = 2.5,
              n_rows = 10,
              flip = TRUE) +
  facet_wrap(~country) + bbplot::bbc_style() +
  scale_fill_manual(values = wesanderson::wes_palette("Darjeeling1"))

Next we can look more in detail at the votes that they countries abstained from voting in.

We can use the tidytext function that reorders the geom_bar in each country. You can read the blog of Julie Silge to learn more about the functions, it is a bit tricky but it fixes the problem of randomly ordered bars across facets.

korea_un %>%
  filter(vote == "abstain") %>% 
  mutate(issue = case_when(issue == "Nuclear weapons and nuclear material" ~ "Nukes",
issue == "Arms control and disarmament" ~ "Arms",
issue == "Palestinian conflict" ~ "Palestine",
TRUE ~ as.character(issue))) %>% 
  select(country, issue, year) %>% 
  group_by(issue, country) %>% 
  count() %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  group_by(country) %>% 
  mutate(country = as.factor(country),
         issue = reorder_within(issue, n, country)) %>%
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(issue, n), y = n)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", width = 0.7, aes(fill = country)) + 
  labs(title = "Abstaining UN General Assembly Votes by issues",
       subtitle = ("Since 1950s"),
       caption = "         Source: unvotes ") +
  xlab("") + 
  ylab("") +
  facet_wrap(~country, scales = "free_y") +
  scale_x_reordered() +
  coord_flip() + 
  expand_limits(y = 65) + 
  ggthemes::theme_pander() + 
  scale_fill_manual(values = sample(my_colors)) + 
 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),
       legend.position = "none",
        # 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"))

South Korea was far more likely to abstain from votes that North Korea on all issues

Next we can simply plot out the Human Rights votes that each country voted to support. Even though South Korea has far higher human rights scores, North Korea votes in support of more votes on this topic.

korea_un %>% 
  filter(year < 2019) %>% 
  filter(issue == "Human rights") %>% 
  filter(vote == "yes") %>% 
  group_by(country, year) %>% 
  count() %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = n, group = country, color = country)) + 
  geom_line(size = 2) + 
  geom_point(aes(color = country), fill = "white", shape = 21, size = 3, stroke = 2.5) +
  scale_x_discrete(breaks = round(seq(min(korea_un$year), max(korea_un$year), by = 10),1)) +
  scale_y_continuous(expand = c(0, 0), limits = c(0, 22)) + 
  bbplot::bbc_style() + facet_wrap(~country) + 
  theme(legend.position = "none") + 
  scale_color_manual(values = sample(my_colors)) + 
  labs(title = "Human Rights UN General Assembly Yes Votes ",
       subtitle = ("Since 1990s"),
       caption = "         Source: unvotes ")

All together:

Visualise DemocracyData with graphs and maps

Packages we will need:


In this post, we will look at easy ways to graph data from the democracyData package.

The two datasets we will look at are the Anckar-Fredriksson dataset of political regimes and Freedom House Scores.

Regarding democracies, Anckar and Fredriksson (2018) distinguish between republics and monarchies. Republics can be presidential, semi-presidential, or parliamentary systems.

Within the category of monarchies, almost all systems are parliamentary, but a few countries are conferred to the category semi-monarchies.

Bill Murray King GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Autocratic countries can be in the following main categories: absolute monarchy, military rule, party-based rule, personalist rule, and oligarchy.

anckar <- democracyData::redownload_anckar()
fh <- download_fh()

We will see which regime types have been free or not since 1970.

We join the fh dataset to the anckar dataset with inner_join(). Luckily, both the datasets have the cown and year variables with which we can merge.

Then we sumamrise the mean Freedom House level for each regime type.

anckar %>% 
  inner_join(fh, by = c("cown", "year")) %>% 
  filter(! %>%
  group_by(regimebroadcat, year) %>% 
  summarise(mean_fh = mean(fh_total_reversed, na.rm = TRUE)) -> anckar_sum

We want to place a label for each regime line in the graph, so create a small dataframe with regime score information only about the first year.

anckar_start <- anckar_sum %>%
  group_by(regimebroadcat) %>% 
  filter(year == 1972) %>% 

And we pick some more jewel toned colours for the graph and put them in a vector.

my_palette <- c("#ca6702", "#bb3e03", "#ae2012", "#9b2226", "#001219", "#005f73", "#0a9396", "#94d2bd", "#ee9b00")

And we graph it out

anckar_sum %>%
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = mean_fh, groups = as.factor(regimebroadcat))) + 
  geom_point(aes(color = regimebroadcat), alpha = 0.7, size = 2) + 
  geom_line(aes(color = regimebroadcat), alpha = 0.7, size = 2) +
  ggrepel::geom_label_repel(data = anckar_start, hjust = 1.5,
            aes(x = year,
                y = mean_fh,
                color = regimebroadcat,
                label = regimebroadcat),
            alpha = 0.7,
            show.legend = FALSE, 
            size = 9) + 
  scale_color_manual(values = my_palette) +
  expand_limits(x = 1965) +  
  ggthemes::theme_pander() + 
  theme(legend.position = "none",
        axis.text = element_text(size = 30, colour ="grey40")) 

We can also use map data that comes with the tidyverse() package.

To merge the countries easily, I add a cown variable to this data.frame

world_map <- map_data("world")

world_map %<>% 
  mutate(cown = countrycode::countrycode(region, "", "cown"))

I want to only look at regimes types in the final year in the dataset – which is 2018 – so we filter only one year before we merge with the map data.frame.

The geom_polygon() part is where we indiciate the variable we want to plot. In our case it is the regime category

anckar %>% 
 filter(year == max(year)) %>%
  inner_join(world_map, by = c("cown")) %>%
  mutate(regimebroadcat = ifelse(region == "Libya", 'Military rule', regimebroadcat)) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = long, y = lat, group = group)) + 
  geom_polygon(aes(fill = regimebroadcat), color = "white", size = 1) 
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We can next look at the PIPE dataset and see which countries have been uninterrupted republics over time.

pipe <- democracyData::redownload_pipe()

We graph out the max_republic_age variable with geom_bar()

pipe %>% 
  mutate(iso_lower = tolower(countrycode::countrycode(PIPE_cowcodes, "cown", "iso2c"))) %>% 
  mutate(country_name = countrycode::countrycode(PIPE_cowcodes, "cown", "")) %>% 
  filter(year == max(year)) %>% 
  filter(max_republic_age > 100) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(country_name, max_republic_age), y = max_republic_age)) + 
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", width = 0.7, aes(fill = as.factor(europe))) +
  ggflags::geom_flag(aes(y = max_republic_age, x = country_name, 
                         country = iso_lower), size = 15) + 
  coord_flip() +  ggthemes::theme_pander() -> pipe_plot

And fix up some aesthetics:

pipe_plot + 
  theme(axis.text = element_text(size = 30),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 30),
        legend.title = element_blank(),
        axis.title = element_blank(),
        legend.position = "bottom") + 
  labs(y= "", x = "") + 
scale_fill_manual(values =  c("#d62828", "#457b9d"),
 labels = c("Former British Settler Colony", "European Country")) 

I added the header and footer in

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Create density plots with ggridges package in R

Packages we will need:

library(ggimage)  # to add png images
library(bbplot)   # for pretty graph themes

We will plot out the favourability opinion polls for the three main political parties in Ireland from 2016 to 2020. Data comes from Louwerse and Müller (2020)

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Before we dive into the ggridges plotting, we have a little data cleaning to do. First, we extract the last four “characters” from the date string to create a year variable.

I took this quick function from a StackOverflow response:

substrRight <- function(x, n){
  substr(x, nchar(x)-n+1, nchar(x))}

polls_csv$year <- substrRight(polls_csv$Date, 4)

Next, pivot the data from wide to long format.

More information of pivoting data with dplyr can be found here. I tend to check it at least once a month as the arguments refuse to stay in my head.

I only want to take the main parties in Ireland to compare in the plot.

polls <- polls_csv %>%
  select(year, FG:SF) %>% 
  pivot_longer(!year, names_to = "party", values_to = "opinion_poll")

I went online and found the logos for the three main parties (sorry, Labour) and saved them in the working directory I have for my RStudio. That way I can call the file with the prefix “~/**.png” rather than find the exact location they are saved on the computer.

polls %>% 
  filter(party == "FF" | party == "FG" | party == "SF" ) %>% 
  mutate(image = ifelse(party=="FF","~/ff.png",
 ifelse(party=="FG","~/fg.png", "~/sf.png"))) -> polls_three

Now we are ready to plot out the density plots for each party with the geom_density_ridges() function from the ggridges package.

We will add a few arguments into this function.

We add an alpha = 0.8 to make each density plot a little transparent and we can see the plots behind.

The scale = 2 argument pushes all three plots togheter so they are slightly overlapping. If scale =1, they would be totally separate and 3 would have them overlapping far more.

The rel_min_height = 0.01 argument removes the trailing tails from the plots that are under 0.01 density. This is again for aesthetics and just makes the plot look slightly less busy for relatively normally distributed densities

The geom_image takes the images and we place them at the beginning of the x axis beside the labels for each party.

Last, we use the bbplot package BBC style ggplot theme, which I really like as it makes the overall graph look streamlined with large font defaults.

polls_three %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = opinion_poll, y = as.factor(party))) +  
  geom_density_ridges(aes(fill = party), 
                      alpha = 0.8, 
                      scale = 2,
                      rel_min_height = 0.01) + 
  ggimage::geom_image(aes(y = party, x= 1, image = image), asp = 0.9, size = 0.12) + 
  facet_wrap(~year) + 
  bbplot::bbc_style() +
  scale_fill_manual(values = c("#f2542d", "#edf6f9", "#0e9594")) +
  theme(legend.position = "none") + 
  labs(title = "Favourability Polls for the Three Main Parties in Ireland", subtitle = "Data from Irish Polling Indicator (Louwerse & Müller, 2020)")
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Graphing Pew survey responses with ggplot in R

Packages we will need:


We are going to look at a few questions from the 2019 US Pew survey on relations with foreign countries.

Data can be found by following this link:

We are going to make bar charts to plot out responses to the question asked to American participaints: Should the US cooperate more or less with some key countries? The countries asked were China, Russia, Germany, France, Japan and the UK.

Before we dive in, we can find some nice hex colors for the bar chart. There are four possible responses that the participants could give: cooperate more, cooperate less, cooperate the same as before and refuse to answer / don’t know.

pal <- c("Cooperate more" = "#0a9396",
         "Same as before" = "#ee9b00",
         "Don't know" = "#005f73",
         "Cooperate less" ="#ae2012")

We first select the questions we want from the full survey and pivot the dataframe to long form with pivot_longer(). This way we have a single column with all the different survey responses. that we can manipulate more easily with dplyr functions.

Then we summarise the data to count all the survey reponses for each of the four countries and then calculate the frequency of each response as a percentage of all answers.

Then we mutate the variables so that we can add flags. The geom_flag() function from the ggflags packages only recognises ISO2 country codes in lower cases.

After that we change the factors level for the four responses so they from positive to negative views of cooperation

pew %>% 
  select(id = case_id, Q2a:Q2f) %>% 
  pivot_longer(!id, names_to = "survey_question", values_to = "response")  %>% 
  group_by(survey_question, response) %>% 
  summarise(n = n()) %>%
  mutate(freq = n / sum(n)) %>% 
  ungroup() %>% 
  mutate(response_factor = as.factor(response)) %>% 
  mutate(country_question = ifelse(survey_question == "Q2a", "fr",
ifelse(survey_question == "Q2b", "gb",
ifelse(survey_question == "Q2c", "ru",
ifelse(survey_question == "Q2d", "cn",
ifelse(survey_question == "Q2e", "de",
ifelse(survey_question == "Q2f", "jp", survey_question))))))) %>% 
  mutate(response_string = ifelse(response_factor == 1, "Cooperate more",
ifelse(response_factor == 2, "Cooperate less",
ifelse(response_factor == 3, "Same as before",
ifelse(response_factor == 9, "Don't know", response_factor))))) %>% 
  mutate(response_string = fct_relevel(response_string, c("Cooperate less","Same as before","Cooperate more", "Don't know"))) -> pew_clean

We next use ggplot to plot out the responses.

We use the position = "stack" to make all the responses “stack” onto each other for each country. We use stat = "identity" because we are not counting each reponses. Rather we are using the freq variable we calculated above.

pew_clean %>%
  ggplot() +
  geom_bar(aes(x = forcats::fct_reorder(country_question, freq), y = freq, fill = response_string), color = "#e5e5e5", size = 3, position = "stack", stat = "identity") +
  geom_flag(aes(x = country_question, y = -0.05 , country = country_question), color = "black", size = 20) -> pew_graph

And last we change the appearance of the plot with the theme function

pew_graph + 
coord_flip() + 
  scale_fill_manual(values = pal) +
  ggthemes::theme_fivethirtyeight() + 
  ggtitle("Should the US cooperate more or less with the following country?") +
  theme(legend.title = element_blank(),
        legend.position = "top",
        legend.key.size = unit(2, "cm"),
        text = element_text(size = 25),
        legend.text = element_text(size = 20),
        axis.text = element_blank())

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:

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 2

Packages we will need


The main workhorse of this blog is the peacesciencer package by Stephen Miller!

The package will create both dyad datasets and state datasets with all sovereign countries.

Thank you Mr Miller!

There are heaps of options and variables to add.

Go to the page to read about them all in detail.

Here is a short list from the package description of all the key variables that can be quickly added:

We create the dyad dataset with the create_dyadyears() function. A dyad-year dataset focuses on information about the relationship between two countries (such as whether the two countries are at war, how much they trade together, whether they are geographically contiguous et cetera).

In the literature, the study of interstate conflict has adopted a heavy focus on dyads as a unit of analysis.

Alternatively, if we want just state-year data like in the previous blog post, we use the function create_stateyears()

We can add the variables with type D to the create_dyadyears() function and we can add the variables with type S to the create_stateyears() !

Focusing on the create_dyadyears() function, the arguments we can include are directed and mry.

The directed argument indicates whether we want directed or non-directed dyad relationship.

In a directed analysis, data include two observations (i.e. two rows) per dyad per year (such as one for USA – Russia and another row for Russia – USA), but in a nondirected analysis, we include only one observation (one row) per dyad per year.

The mry argument indicates whether they want to extend the data to the most recently concluded calendar year – i.e. 2020 – or not (i.e. until the data was last available).

dyad_df <- create_dyadyears(directed = FALSE, mry = TRUE) %>%
  add_atop_alliance() %>%  
  add_nmc() %>%
  add_cow_trade() %>% 

I added dyadic variables for the

You can follow these links to check out the codebooks if you want more information about descriptions about each variable and how the data were collected!

The code comes with the COW code but I like adding the actual names also!

dyad_df$country_1 <- countrycode(dyad_df$ccode1, "cown", "")

With this dataframe, we can plot the CINC data of the top three superpowers, just looking at any variable that has a 1 at the end and only looking at the corresponding country_1!

According to our pals over at le Wikipedia, the Composite Index of National Capability (CINC) is a statistical measure of national power created by J. David Singer for the Correlates of War project in 1963. It uses an average of percentages of world totals in six different components (such as coal consumption, military expenditure and population). The components represent demographic, economic, and military strength

First, let’s choose some nice hex colors

pal <- c("China" = "#DE2910",
         "United States" = "#3C3B6E", 
         "Russia" = "#FFD900")

And then create the plot

dyad_df %>% 
 filter(country_1 == "Russia" | 
          country_1 == "United States" | 
          country_1 == "China") %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = year, y = cinc1, group = as.factor(country_1))) +
  geom_line(aes(color = country_1)) +
  geom_line(aes(color = country_1), size = 2, alpha = 0.8) + 
  scale_color_manual(values =  pal) +

In PART 3, we will merge together our data with our variables from PART 1, look at some descriptive statistics and run some panel data regression analysis with our different variables!