Seoul’s Steamy Summer (Updated)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been away from Seoul for much of the summer, but now that I’m back it’s impossible not to hear all the complaining — among expats and locals alike — about the heat.

They have a point, at least in terms of their expectations. This summer has indeed been hotter than usual, especially this month, when the daily low temperature on one recent day actually exceeded the average high. (I updated the chart on Aug. 24).

Historically, the air begins cooling slightly in August. Not so this year…


Are People in Colder Countries Taller? (Continued…)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

Earlier this week I posted two scatterplots examining the relationship between a country’s average temperature and its male residents’ average height. The data show some correlation, but there probably are several of other factors affecting height as well.

The earlier plots shaded the country dots by income and region, allowing more context about the groupings of countries (hint: Europe is colder and taller).

This next version, however, proportionally sizes the dots by population, adding another layer of context (or perhaps unnecessary complexity).


Are People in Colder Countries Taller?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

I got married in Amsterdam. One thing I remember most about my time in The Netherlands is the obvious height of the locals. Both men and women, generally, are quite tall.

A new study supports my anecdotal observation. Dutch men are the tallest people in the world (women there are second), followed closely by some of their European neighbors. People in Southeast Asian and African countries are, on the other hand, shorter.

I’ve always wondered why the Dutch are so tall. Is it their dairy-rich diet, perhaps? Or could there be a correlation between the lower average temperatures in Northern Europe and its apparent height advantage? Are people taller in colder countries?

The answer is … sort of.

“A Gulf Between Red and Blue”

Ranking the states by social and economic indicators…

We identify blue states as the 18 that supported the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential elections, and red states as the 22 that backed the Republican candidate (alternative definitions yield similar results). If you compare averages, blue states are substantially richer (even adjusting for cost of living) and their residents are better educated.

Read more at:

Charting Taiwan’s Sea of Scooters

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Taiwan

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

I’m in Taiwan this month to study Mandarin. During breaks, I’ll be posting occasionally about the island nation’s demographics, politics and (sticky) weather.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the streets of Taiwan — other than the excellent food, sweet people and formidable humidity, of course — is the constant buzz of scooters. They are everywhere — and loud and perhaps a little unsafe.

That’s true even in Taipei, the capitol region, which has a world-class subway system and yet about 1 million motorcycles on the roads (as opposed to roughly 800,000 cars and trucks).

It turns out there’s a proportionally startling number of motorcycles, as the government classifies them, on the roads across this country: More than 13 million in nation of just 23 million.

Most homes have them, for example:

And there are nearly twice as many motorcycles on the roads than cars and trucks, according to the government:

Though the rate of motorcycles per 1,000 population is declining: