Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Who cares about poverty in the summertime?

Apparently not too many people.

First I’ll come out and admit that I’m addicted to playing with Google trends. I find it a fascinating commentary on our collective consciousness and weirdly entertaining. So, I was looking at search trends on ‘poverty’ across the world and there are two things that I find intriguing. First, there seems to be decreasing search volumes over the past several years although there are increasing news references. This is puzzling. But more interesting was that it was oddly seasonal, dipping twice a year. Check it out:

A country by country view was revealing. The decreasing interest over time cannot be attributed to the USA but the seasonal trend is more apparent, dipping during the summertime and then again over Christmas.

I then checked out other English speaking countries. UK and Australia both had some seasonality, less apparent in the UK than Australia, and dipping at slightly different times of the year. Turns out the dips correspond to the academic calendar for each country.

I have no idea what to make of India:

But what’s up out there? Are teachers just assigning a lot of homework on poverty all over the world?


  1. In India everday on road we see and experience what poverty is and no wonder there is no need for us to do a google search and find out what poverty actually is?

    Also most of the parent always quote in India "Study well, if not you have to be on Streets seeking Alms"

  2. What comes to my mind is this - who would be expect to be googling on poverty or related key words. Not the poor of course, perhaps the following:
    1. Students, (like you mentioned) finishing up their homework.
    2. People in the poverty fight - NGOs, anti-poverty analysts, solution searchers, idea explorers, etc.
    3. Empathisers - someone who knew there was poverty around but wanted to get a grasp of its magnitude, distribution, etc.
    4. Miscellaneous searchers - like a sad googler who felt he was poor cause his dad did not buy him a new Mercedes, and wanted to check how poor others in the world were.

    The google trend analysis may in itself not be too much of a learning or help, since the poor themselves are not in the primary set of searchers.

    I believe the best long term help for poverty comes from the poor themselves, with you me and others being mere facilitators to help them where we think we can.

  3. Sorry about grammatical errors, if any, I just typed my thoughts straight out.