Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

Impact of Lebanon’s Economic Collapse on the Lebanese Population

Impact of Lebanon’s Economic Collapse on the Lebanese Population

Featured Image Courtesy of:

    Contributors in Alphabetical Order:

  • Nour El-Habhab
  • Salem Grayzi
  • Antoine Rahal
  • Bahige Saab
  • Ziad Shehab
  • Mahmoud Yaghmour


Lebanon has been living one of the worst economic crises that a country has lived in the modern era. According to the World Bank , it is likely to rank among the top 10 most severe crises experienced globally since the 1850s. In this article, we will explore the impact of Lebanon’s economic collapse on the mental health of the Lebanese people, their productivity, and their forecasts of the country’s future. We will also try to discuss two potential measures that could mitigate its severe economic crisis.
The following graphs plotted in the dashboard were based on the UN World Indicators dataset. These graphs reflect the severity of the Lebanese collapse. The bar chart of Lebanon’s GDP per capital for the last ten years demonstrates that the country’s GDP has shrunk by 43% in two years only! To make things worse, the inflation rate line chart show that the country’s inflation rate has skyrocketed by 2724% in two years only! An item that cost 1000LBP in 2018 cost almost 27,240 LBP in 2020! For further details refer to the “Lebanon’s Economic Collapse in Numbers” dashboard.

These shocking numbers have motivated us to study the effect of the economic collapse on the Lebanese people’s mental health and productivity in addition to explore their insights about the future. Therefore, we designed a survey in which 370 people of different age and employment groups participated. The results were extremely alarming: 61% of the surveyed people said that their mental health was affected by the economic collapse while almost 60% of them revealed the negative impact of the crisis on their productivity. To make things worse, 69% of the respondents said that they wanted to leave Lebanon while 62% of them were pessimistic about the country’s future! Almost 1 in every 5 Lebanese said that there is no hope in Lebanon. On the other hand, almost half of the respondents said they would stay in Lebanon if the situation improved. The “Survey Dashboard” summarizes the survey’s results.

The Currency Board:

As Lebanon’s economy has been in crisis for almost two years now, ranked in possibly the top three most severe economic and financial crises since the nineteenth century, an ultimate solution does exist but is nearly impossible to achieve, replacing the ruling political parties. As ambitious young minds, we looked for practical solutions that we can possibly push for to help our country. A suggested solution from an economic perspective would be a currency board, a solution that has been implemented in countries that were facing a similar crisis to Lebanon such as Lithuania and Bolivia. A currency board is an entity separated from the central bank that is given the authority of managing the country’s currency reserves and fixing exchanges rates, it is regulated by law and not the government, hence limiting any pressure from political parties. Having a currency board would fix the inflation rate and trigger a domino effect on the economy by improving GDP, growth, and many other factors.
The “Currency Board Solution” dashboard below shows that there is a prompt decrease in the inflation rate after applying the currency board solution in the late 90s in Bulgaria, Estonia, and Lithuania, who’ve faced severe cases of hyperinflation just like Lebanon. Alongside the stability of the inflation rate over 20 years, GDP has shown a steady increase since the setup of the board as a result of inflation being stabilized. This shows how this solution has an immediate impact and could help Lebanon start the recovery process directly.

Obtaining then Commercializing IP to boost GDP:

Another solution for Lebanon’s current problem is obtaining then commercializing intellectual property; Given Lebanon’s rich human capital this seems like a reasonable solution. Also, by patenting Lebanon’s ideas, they can offset copycat competitors thus preserving Lebanon’s newly found income source, for a reasonable timeframe [till the patent expires]. Some of the metrics to measure a country’s participation in intellectual properties, at least from the World Bank World Development Indicator dataset are:
– Patent application, residents and Patent application, non-residents
o These were summed to a new metric: Patent Applications, Total
– Industrial design applications, resident by count and Industrial design applications, nonresident by count
o These too were summed to a new metric: Industrial design applications (Total)
– Trademark applications total
o No summing of several metrics was needed here
Besides generating high-value, and off-setting copycat competitors, plenty of the high-value wages in many fields are not energy-intensive; for instance, consider the designers of the iPhone package boxes at the Apple headquarters; these box designers literally sit in a room designing carton boxes, and these designers make more money than the overseas employees working in the energy-intensive factory manufacturing these boxes. This is a model that Lebanon who has high creativity but is experiencing an energy shortage can pursue.
And as the “Potential Solution: Patenting” dashboard demonstrates, we’re able to see that these three Intellectual property metrics are positively-correlated with GDP – so it is something that we believe Lebanon as a society should consider as a route to follow.


To conclude, it is true that Lebanon’s economic crisis has merged us into a dark tunnel from which it is not easy to get out of. However, with conscientious diligent ethical work, we can accelerate the recovery process. At the end, it is in our hands to decide whether we shall stay this obscure tunnel for a long time or encounter the light of salvation at its end as fast as possible.

The Lebanese Economic Crisis, 2022

The Lebanese Economic Crisis, 2022

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Lebanon, a Small Country with Huge Worries

If you’re reading this blog, you are more privileged than 78% of the Lebanese population! The United Nations stated that 78% live under the line of poverty in 2021. Let me walk you through all the evidences and solution. GDP per capita is a perfect metric to measure the economic conditions of a country’s citizens: Lebanon’s GDP per capita plunged to a negative 21% growth in 2020. However, a bigger problem looms over Lebanon: It is far from being able to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda, more specifically, section 8 related to economic factors. Section 8.1.1 in the 2030 Agenda requires all countries to sustain a 7% GDP per capita growth.

How can Lebanon Catch Up?

The answer is straightforward: Secure Foreign Funds! To secure such funds from international institutions like the IMF or World Bank, the Lebanese Government should implement quick local economic reforms.

The secured funds will then be used to transform Lebanon from a major importer to a major exporter. The funds must be invested in local production, tourism and domestic spending (infrastructure). This can definitely boost Lebanon’s GDP among several other reforms in different sectors.

Is it Really a Good Idea?

Many people are skeptical on borrowing from international institutions like the IMF due to the severity of their rules. However, let’s take Egypt as an example: Egypt increased IMF borrowings by 1,500% from 2015 till 2020 (yup, you read right, no additional zeros). The Egyptian government spent the funds on enforcing its local production and improving the tourism sector. As a result, Egypt met the UN’s Agenda 2030 economic goals and especially goal 8.1.1 (GDP per capita growth > 7%).


The one and only recommendation is for the Lebanese government: Implement the needed reforms, secure the foreign funds, invest them wisely and save Lebanon from the catastrophe!

Infant Mortality Rate in China: A Success Story

At the dawn of the 1990s, the People’s Republic of China was a typical developing nation. The majority of its population lived in poverty mainly in rural areas. The country’s GDP per capita was $318 which was almost equal to that of the African nation of Mali ($317) and much less than the GDP per capita of the South American nation of Guyana ($533.5). However, the most challenging problem that the Asian dragon faced was the high infant mortality rate of 42.7 deaths per 1000 births which was considered high according to UN standards (12 deaths/1000 births). Since then, the government implemented ambitious and bold economic reforms and opened gradually its economy to the rest of the world. The country witnessed an influx of foreign investment that resulted in the increase of the nation’s GDP per capita from $318 in 1990 to $10,144 in 2019! Beijing took advantage of its miraculous economic growth by incrementing investment in its health system. It focused on health financing, human resource development and health information systems and promoted the equalization of health services including maternal and child health services. As a result, the infant mortality rate in China decreased from 42.7 deaths/1000 births in 1990 to 5.9 deaths/1000 births in 2019. In other words, China triumphed in decreasing its infant mortality rate by 86% in almost 20 years, an achievement that even the most developed nations of the world did not accomplish. China is the example of a nation that has benefited from its economic development to decrease infant mortality rate. In this way, it achieved target 3.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for countries to reach by 2030 -the ending of preventable deaths of newborns to less than 12; and most importantly achieved the health and welfare of its population.


Guo Y, Yin H. Reducing child mortality in China: successes and challenges. Lancet. 2016;387(10015):205-207. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00555-3

Department of Economics and Social Affairs, United Nations: Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 3:

The Lebanese Phoenix

The Lebanese Phoenix

My morning dark coffee was mixed lately with the sorrowful news regarding the collapse of the Lebanese economy. People are losing their jobs, their purchasing power, and even their hope to rise again. I felt for a couple of times that we are powerless and it’s the time to accept that hope is only a way to package the melancholic truth.

In my attempt to find any light inside the deep dark hole that we are inside, I remembered the metaphor of Lebanese phoenix that I heard about during the 2006 July war. Phoenix is the bird who can arise from the aches according to Greek mythology. Beirut, the capital of the old country, like the phoenix, was rebuilt more than seven times according to legend.  So, to strengthen the glimpse of hope with actual reality, I searched for a recent stage where Lebanon was rising.  I surprised when I found that between 1950 and 1974, Lebanon was in a golden stage with a GPD per capita is greater than many developed counties nowadays!  So, my current concern becomes while drinking my morning coffee is how we can make the Lebanese phoenix rise again?

Note: I created this graph using tableau software based on the data from Maddison Project Database 2018.

GDP per capita vs Population Age distribution. Let’s explore it

GDP per capita vs Population Age distribution. Let’s explore it

The below storyboard highlights and examines a correlation between the GDP per capita and population age distribution. The visualization shows a comparison between regions and across time. This correlation makes us think more about future problems like pensions, economic growth, child labor, retirement age, and possible social problems. It is worth examining further if there is causality. Are economic changes coming based on age distribution?

The dashboard is interactive. Please feel free to filter, highlight, and discover the data in more depth. The fullscreen setting will allow for a better viewing experience.